Covington Post 32 made an early exit after losing their first two games in the American Legion Southeast Regional Tournament.
Post 32 were run-ruled 11-1 in eight innings by the North Carolina (Shelby) team on Thursday before losing to Alabama (Tuscaloosa) 3-1 on Friday.
“We have a lot of young guys and you have to remember that this is a first-year team so we have something to build on,” Covington Post 32 head coach Bill Dallas said.
Covington took a lead in the opening game when Ryan Sutton scored on a Zach Beggs single to right field in the top of the third inning against North Carolina. However, they did not enjoy their lead for long as their opponent took a 2-1 lead in the home half of the inning.
Post 32 were within striking distance until the fifth inning when North Carolina exploded with four runs making it a 6-1 game.
“They have the bases loaded and they loosen up and we tighten up,” Dallas said. “When the momemtum swings sometimes you just can’t stop it. That was a bad inning and we had another bad inning.”
The home team took care of business in the eighth inning crossing home plate five times giving North Carolina a double-digit lead forcing the game to end by run-rule.
North Carolina had more than twice as many hits than the Georgia state champions. The team from Shelby had 14 hits compared to the six by the Covington team.
Beggs led Post 32 with two hits with the other hits coming from the bats of Cale Brown, Domenic Bazzani, Blake Shope and Sutton.
Post 32 started the second round of the tournament trailing Alabama, who lost to Florida (Jacksonville) 2-1 in the first round, 1-0 after scoring in the top of the first inning.
Sutton took advantage of Alabama’s decision to turn double-play rather than throw him out at the plate tying the game in the third.
Covington had a few chances to close the gap but mistakes while running bases took them out of scoring opportunites.
“We made two costly base running mistakes. From the very beginning I let my guys know that I don’t have a problem with them being aggressive on the bases as long as we’re even or we’re up. (Friday) we were down,” Dallas said. “Two guys got thrown out at third. At second it’s easy to read the curve ball in the dirt but both guys got thrown out at third and it makes us look bad. That’s the kids making a mistake but you have to remember they’re just kids.”
Alabama was able to regain the lead in the top of the fourth before adding an insurance run in the eighth as they held on for the two-run win.
The Post 32 bats were a little bit more alive than they were against North Carolina as they got eight hits, one more than Alabama. The problem was that they could not get them back to back or in key situations as Alabama pitcher Reid Ryan kept them off balance enough with nine strikeouts.
Brown and Sutton paced the Covington team with two hits followed by Dalton Reagin, Hunter Ballard, Hank Steele and Nick Womack with one hit each.
“We didn’t get as many timely hits as I thought we would,” Dallas said. “He (Ryan) changed speeds real well and I’m a firm believer that you have to go up there and swing.
“I think it was a great experience for our guys. I feel confident that we’re going to go back again.”