CHERRYVILLE–It was not exactly men versus boys, but the difference in experience and physical maturity between Gastonia Post 23 and Cherryville Post 100 was apparent in Sunday night`s Area four-Eastern Division matchup.
Gastonia, its roster stocked with graduated high school seniors bound for college as well as college freshmen, hammered the defending state American Legion champions 13-3 in seven innings before a good crowd at Fraley Field.
Over the weekend, Post 100 resembled only in name the squad that rolled to state and regional titles in 2003 and finished second in the nation at the Little World Series.
With one starter back from that team, Cherryville`s youth was on glaring display in Sunday`s game and also Friday night at home in a 14-9 loss to Lake Norman.
The pair of home losses left Cherryville 2-3 in the division and 5-4 overall. Gastonia, meanwhile, moved to 6-1 in the division and is quickly establishing itself as a championship contender in Area Four.
“We knew it was going to be tough at times,” Post 100 coach Bobby Reynolds said after his squad gave up 27 runs and made 10 errors in the weekend home stand. “We`re just so young. What you hope for is that you will get better as you go along. Right now, we have a number of concerns.”
One of those concerns is defense, as the rash of errors will attest.
Another is consistent pitching. Sunday night was a prime example as starting lefty Chris Cook was chased in the fourth after allowing six runs, nine hits and two bases on balls.
Reliever J.T. Thomas, who looked sharp in a non-divisional game against Asheboro on Wednesday, was tagged for four runs on four hits in the fifth.
Kyle Snyder, the third Post 100 hurler of the night, also struggled. The lefthander yielded two runs on two hits and walked three in the seventh inning as Gastonia stretched its lead to 10 at 13-3, setting up the premature ending.
Meanwhile, former Ashbrook star Wes McCall pitched a four-hitter with 13 strikeouts for Post 23. The only Cherryville batter he did not control was Evan Wise, who hit a solo home run in the second inning and a RBI single in the third.
Wise, who started in right field, went 2-for-3 with two RBI. Josh Glover and Paul Finger had the only other hits off McCall, a lefty who will play college baseball at UNC-Greensboro.
McCall did not do a bad job at the plate either. In his last three at-bats, McCall singled, hit a two-run homer and doubled, and finished the night 3-for-4.
Steven Klenovicz and Nick Riddle also had three hits each for Gastonia, which looks nothing like the team that finished 7-16 in 2003 with a roster of only 11 players.
At Fraley Field
Lake Norman 14,
Johnny Spake, Brett Bernhardt and Kelly Johnson had three hits each to lead Lake Norman, which nearly blew an 11-run lead in a game marked by big innings.
Post 509 appeared to be on cruise control after building its lead to 11-0 with a seven-run scoring spree in the top of the fifth.
But it was not over yet. Cherryville scored four in the fifth and five in the sixth to pull to 11-9. However, the rally to end all rallies never got any further as Post 100 managed one hit over the final three frames.
Spake`s 3-for-5 night with a homer and three RBI led the 16-hit Lake Norman attack. For Post 100, Steven Hoyle was 3-for-4 with three RBI, and Lincolnton High product Brian Ebert was 3-for-4 with two runs scored.
Cherryville`s shaky defense was charged with seven errors.
Blake Edmondson was the winning pitcher, Wayne McDonald the loser.
Charlotte Post 262 at Cherryville
Newell at Cherryville, ppd Wed.
Newell at Cherryville
Huntersville at Cherryvilleby Mike Powell