The Williamston Post 121 American Legion baseball team is advancing in the playoffs after a second win in as many nights over Gaffney Post 109.
The second win wasn’t as easy as the first. It took a 4-run rally from Williamston in the seventh inning to secure the 9-5 victory.
It was a back-and-forth game from the start. Gaffney made a lot of contact off starter Cody Morris, and the defense didn’t make many plays behind him. Williamston made 3 errors in the second inning, and that allowed Gaffney to jump ahead 4-1 early.
But the offense began to chip away at that deficit immediately, something that came as a pleasant surprise to coach Wade Padgett.
“The past few weeks, our offense has been struggling a little bit,” Padgett said. “So I think that was really cool for us to see that side kind of pick up the defense tonight, when last night, we were strong on pitching and defense.”
Williamston scored 1 run in the third inning on an RBI groundout by Chaz Knight, and then struck for 3 more in a pivotal fourth inning. The Williamston hitters did a great job of making the Gaffney pitchers work hard all night. They got into deep counts and drew 11 walks as a team, 3 of them in the fourth inning alone.
“Our guys were just seeing a lot of pitches, and I think the more pitches you see later in the game, the more chances you’ve got to square some up,” Padgett said.
Those walks set up Clay Alberson for an RBI single, and then Brady Jeffcoat had one of the key at-bats of the game. He fouled off pitch after pitch before hitting a bloop single to center field to tie the game at 4. He would add another RBI single in the seventh on a much harder hit ball.
“He’s a great player,” Padgett said about Jeffcoat. “He’s unbelievable. He was unbelievable in the field last night too. He’s our leading hitter for a reason.”
Following Jeffcoat’s clutch at-bat, Knight gave Post 121 the lead 5-4 with another productive RBI groundout.
After a tough first two innings, Morris settled right down on the mound and threw 3 clean innings in a row to allow the team to comeback. He ended up throwing 6 innings, allowing 5 runs (only 1 earned) on 5 hits while striking out 2. Padgett, who coached Morris in high school at Powdersville, said that’s exactly what he was expecting from him.
“That’s just what I know about him. He’s not going to get frazzled by anything,” Padgett said. “He’s just going to keep saying, ‘Hey, this is what I got to do,’ and keep working. He did a great job.”
The score stayed 5-4 until the bottom of the sixth when Gaffney’s Alex Phillips hit an RBI double to tie the game at 5. However, Williamston’s offense answered the call once again with a 4-run seventh that featured RBIs from Jeffcoat, Knight and Riley Hochrine. Then, Peyton Nelson came in and shut the door in the bottom of the seventh with a 1-2-3 inning.
Williamston will advance to face the winner of the Rock Hill-Greenville first-round series in the best-of-5 second round next week. Padgett feels really good about his team’s chances moving forward.
“I know we’ve got really good players,” he said. “I feel confident. We’ve got good players, and we’ll get a few more back from a trip next week that will help us out, especially on the pitching front.”