Windsor takes legion series

Published 9:12 am Tuesday, July 8, 2014

WINDSOR – Windsor Post 37 rode the strong pitching of lefty Dallas Belch on Saturday and then backed it up with a five-hit mound performance from right-hander Darren Armstrong here Sunday to sweep Kinston Post 43 in two straight games.

The play-in wins, 9-3, and 5-1, respectively, advanced fifth-seed Windsor to the second round where they faced top-seeded Wayne County Post 11 in the Area-One East Senior American Legion baseball playoffs.

Jack Downum crushed a fourth-inning fastball over the centerfield fence just past the flagpole for a two-run home run; and five batters later Lawrence Smith delivered a bases-loaded double to score three more in a one-inning uprising that sank Post 43 quicker than the CSS Neuse Civil War ironclad on display at the Kinston museum.

Smith was three-for-three with three RBI while Terrance Jackson was two-for-three and scored a run.  Downum had two runs-batted-in while Cole Woolard, Brandon Battle, and Adam Cowand also had hits for Post 37; all part of a nine-hit attack for Windsor.

Armstrong went the distance for the seven-inning complete game victory.  He surrendered five hits while striking out six and walking none. Only one Kinston runner reached third base, and that runner scored Post 43’s only run of the game. At one point he retired seven in a row and eight out of nine.

“The splitter (split fingered fastball) helped me out today,” said Armstrong after the game. “Early in the game they were hitting my fastball; plus the defense behind me made no errors and that makes you look good on the mound.”

Kinston got a man on in the top of the first only to see that potential erased when catcher Cowand threw a strike to shortstop Battle to catch the runner stealing. Armstrong then retired the final out with a fly out.

Windsor got a pair of hits in the bottom of the first, but could not bring them around to score.  One runner was knocked out on a fielder’s choice while a force out retired the side.

Post 37 got another runner on in the second but still could not score and then sat Kinston down, one-two-three, in the third.

Meanwhile, Armstrong began using his splitter and a wicked breaking ball that baffled the Kinston batters. After giving up a fielder’s choice in the second, he then retired seven in a row before a two-out hit in the fourth allowed only Post 43’s third runner of the game.

In the bottom of the fourth, Jackson led off with a single to right field.  Armstrong followed and sacrificed Jackson to second.  The next batter, Downum, had looked so woeful at the plate in his first at-bat; but the next time around he got a low breaking ball, then he waited on a fastball offering from the Kinston pitcher and rocketed that pitch over the centerfield fence for a tape-measure job that had to have gone 390 feet, if not farther.  With Jackson scoring ahead of him, Downum had made the score 2-0, Windsor, still with just one out.

“Those swings in my first at-bat were ugly,” said Downum. “Next time up he threw me a curve, then came back with a fastball and I just took him deep.”

A ground out followed the round-tripper, but that at-bat was followed by back-to-back base hits from Woolard and Battle, and a walk to Caleb Sherman that loaded the bases.  The next batter, Smith, completed a three-for-three day with a moon shot over the centerfielder’s head that rolled all the way to the wall and cleared the bases for a 5-0 lead.  Post 37 led by that score after four complete.

Kinston got one of those runs back in the top of the fifth.  Brett Davis doubled down the third base line in left and scored on Austin Batchelor’s long single to right field. Armstrong then retired the next three-in-a-row and three-up-and-three-down in the sixth to keep it at 5-1, Windsor.

In the top of the seventh, Armstrong hit a batter to get a runner aboard, but then he got two strikeouts and a fly out which Jackson squeezed in center to end the ball game.

“We didn’t really hit a whole lot, but the pitcher threw strikes and we made plays behind them and that’s how you win ball games,” said Windsor coach Wayne Hill. “Downum’s home run was one of the hardest balls I’ve ever seen hit in this ball park.”

“My guy just left a couple of pitches up and ‘Boom!’,” sighed Kinston coach Ronnie Battle. “Sometimes that’s all it takes to make a ball game.”

In knocking out the four-seed, fifth-seed Windsor headed to Dudley for the start of a best-of-three series with Wayne County Post-11.  Monday’s game was not done by press time and game-two is tentatively set for tonight (Tuesday) in Windsor at Bertie High School field at 7 p.m.

GAME ONE: WINDSOR 9, KINSTON 3 – Post 37 collected a key road win Saturday night at Kinston High School baseball field with a 9-3 win over Post 43.  Left hander Dallas Belch went five-and-a-third innings for the win, twirling a three-hitter and strike out ten batters.  Caleb Sherman drove in three runs as Post 37 put the game away with four runs in the top of the ninth.

Windsor got a pair of runs in the first to lead it 2-0, then came back with another in the top of the second and another in the third for a 4-0 lead before Kinston even got on the scoreboard.

Post 43 cut the deficit to two runs, 5-3, before Windsor put the game away in the ninth.

Austin Lee relieved Belch and pitched the final three-and-two-thirds innings, giving up seven hits.

“Dallas was throwing the ball right at those batters and it was breaking right in on the plate,” said Hill after the game. “Their batters were just jumping out of the batter’s box and everything was a strike.  Everything was just going our way.”

Post 37 finished the game with nine runs on nine hits, forcing a Sunday second contest and an elimination game back at Windsor on Sunday.