By Adam Thompson
New Bern Sun Journal
NEW BERN - If anything, the youthful Post 24 American Legion baseball team gained some valuable experience this summer.
But it will have to wait until next season to showcase what it’s learned. Post 24’s trying season ended Tuesday with a 19-0 loss to Rocky Mount Post 58 at Boykin Field.
A day after defeating Post 24 14-4, Rocky Mount concluded the best-of-three game series with a 14-hit performance.
With the majority of its players as high school underclassmen, Post 24 was simply out-manned by a Rocky Mount squad that featured eight college players.
In its final game of the summer, Post 24 started two rising sophomores in high school, two kids that recently graduated, one college student and four more underclassmen at New Bern High School.
Post 24 finished with a 3-18 record.
“In reality, we were playing a level above our heads,” said Post 24 coach Gary Smith. “Legion is a funny game. Some programs butter the bread on the legion side and some are looking to develop their high school program, and that’s what we are looking to do.”
Post 24’s offense was limited to just three base hits, including doubles from 2009 New Bern graduate Eric Kosco and NBHS rising junior Bill Little.
Rising sophomore Whitman Barnes reached base twice on a single and a walk.
The pitching staff of NBHS grad Jim Robinson, Barnes, Little and Kosco combined to strikeout 15, but also yielded 12 walks.
Barnes and Kosco each struck out six batters.
“I’ve had teams that were a lot better, that I just haven’t enjoyed as much,” Smith said. “I think, this summer, this has been a great bunch of guys to be around, the ones that have continued to show up and been here every game. They’ve continued to play hard and continued to improve.”
Rocky Mount jumped on Post 24 early, dropping four runs in the top of the first inning and five more in the second.
Post 24’s Barnes slowed Rocky Mount momentarily by striking out the side in the third inning.
“Everybody wants to win. I’d rather win than eat, but I also have to remember what this year was designed to do and that was to get guys like Whitman and Trent Wynn and (Bill) Little and (Ross) Leggett some experience,” Smith said.
Rocky Mount extended its lead with three runs in the fourth and seven in the fifth.
Post 24, who had just one batter reach on a walk, stranded five runners on base. Defensively, Post 24 committed four errors to none for Post 58.
Rocky Mount (17-5) left eight runners on base. Collins Cuthrell, Kyle Norville and Brandon Denton had three hits apiece for Rocky Mount. Bill Clark drove home three runs with a double in the fifth.
NOTE: Rocky Mount Post 58 will host either Edenton Post 40 or Pitt County Post 39 in a best of three series beginning Friday at 7 p.m. at Gryphon Stadium.