Legion Tournament: Jones sparks E. Randolph past Haywood County
SALISBURY — Eastern Randolph may be just the third seed from Area III, but it decisively proved it belongs in the State American Legion baseball tournament. Post 81 pounded out 15 hits, led by first baseman Easton Jones, and thumped Area IV champion Haywood County 8-3 Friday afternoon in their first-round game at Newman Park.
Jones sparked the onslaught with a 4-for-5 performance including a homer, double, two singles and five RBIs as Eastern Randolph never trailed in improving to 26-11. Post 81 reached the state tourney by winning a playoff with rival Randolph County despite not playing, as coach Jerry Kidd described it, not been playing that well of late.
“We really have struggled lately,” Kidd said. “So I was really glad to see us bust out a little today and get some runs. Easton came up big for us today, and he just came ready to hit it. Hopefully it will carry over for the whole team.”
Jones drove in his first run in the first with a double then singled in another run as Eastern built a 3-0 lead in the third. The big blow came in the fifth when Jones powered a first-pitch homer over the scoreboard in left field off Post 47 starter Bryce Burgess, the eventual losing pitcher, with a runner on to make the score 5-0. Another RBI single in the seventh, as part of a three-run burst by Post 81, put a cap on a stellar game for Jones.
” I was just seeing the ball deep and seeing it really well,” Jones said. “I was just looking for a fast ball to drive and hit it hard.”
Jones said he knew he was a triple short of the cycle but was happy to settle for what he did accomplish.
Haywood County showed its only life in the bottom of the seventh when it scored three times off Steed and reliever Mason Biddix. Gray McCurry, Thomas Thatham, Matthew Ridley and Brett Baldwin all had singles in the big inning for Post 47 (24-6), making the first state tournament appearance in program history.
Eastern Randolph now advances in the winner’s bracket Saturday at 7:30 p.m. to face the winner of the Rowan County-Wilson Post 13 game. Haywood County plays the loser in a 12:30 p.m. elimination game Saturday.
E. Randolph 102 020 300 – 8 15 0
Haywood County 000 000 300 – 3 8 1
WP — Bailey Steed. LP — Bryce Burgess. HR — ER: Easton Jones.
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