McDowell County Post 56 baseball is off to a hot start in the Area IV Junior American Legion playoffs.
The 56ers took care of business over the weekend, sweeping Stanley Post 266 two games to none.
McDowell 11, Stanley 0 (Game 1, Friday)
It all started on Friday night as McDowell again erupted offensively and ran away with an 11-0 victory in five innings.
Post 56 took a 5-0 lead after one inning of play and continued to add on to it, scoring four more times in the third inning. And then, after pushing across two more runs in the fourth, McDowell retired Post 266 in the top of the fifth on a line out and two ground outs to force the 10-run rule in to play and end the game.
Meanwhile, pitcher Justin Dula tossed a one-hitter over four innings to earn the victory. Dula, who was economical on the mound, tossing just 54 pitches, struck out four batters and walked none.
The rising senior continues to provide the Legion program with a strong arm in the rotation. So far in Junior Legion play, Dula has an earned run average of 1.13, and in nine appearances he has struck out 53 batters while walking 13 in 43 1/3 innings.
Justin Davis came in and tossed a scoreless fifth inning, allowing just the one hit and then retiring the order to kick in the mercy rule.
McDowell offensively had 10 hits in the series opener. Outfielder Ethan Hamm (2-2, 2RBIs, BB), catcher Cyrus Black (2-3, 2RBIs) and infielder Dusty Revis (2-2, 2RBIs) each had multi-hit outings.
Leadoff hitter Chapel Matson (1-2, RBI, BB), Justin Davis, Justin Dula (1-3, RBI) and Ben Barnes (1-2, double, 2RBIs) added one hit each for Post 56.
McDowell 5, Stanley 1 (Game 2, Saturday)
It was a good, old-fashioned pitcher’s duel for most of Game 2 on Saturday night.
But it was a late surge offensively by Post 56 that helped pull them through with a 5-1 road win to advance to the next round.
Post 266 scored a first-inning run off McDowell pitcher Ethan Davis (4 IP, R, H, 8K, BB), and for five innings they were able to make that lone run stand.
However, Post 56 responded in the sixth inning, pushing across a pair of runs to take the lead for good. And then, three more insurance runs in the seventh gave the 56ers a little more breathing room.
After Davis tossed four innings, Ben Barnes added two scoreless frames to pick up the victory. He allowed three hits and walked four but Stanley Post 266 was never able to capitalize on those opportunities.
Chapel Matson secured the seventh with a scoreless frame, striking out one batter.
Post 266 scored in the first. It started with leadoff hitter Logan Agosta getting hit by a pitch. Then after Agosta advanced to second, Caleb Burr singled to left, scoring Agosta to give Stanley a 1-0 lead.
After that first inning run Davis settled in as he struck out four of the next five batters and allowed only one baserunner in innings two through four.
The score remained at 1-0 until the sixth when Post 56 started its rally.
Three Young singled to right field with one out in the frame. Justin Davis added a base hit to get the go-ahead run to the plate. Justin Dula then gave McDowell the lead 2-1 on a two-run double to center.
Then, in the seventh, a two-run double by Young along with an additional run scored on a wild pitch helped McDowell pull away.
Young (3-4, 2RBIs) finished with three hits in the game. Dula (2RBIs), Matson, Ethan Hamm, Ben Barnes, Dusty Revis and both Justin and Ethan Davis had one hit apiece to give the team a total of 10 hits.
McDowell (19-2) opens its second-round playoff series at Mint Hill tonight. Game 2 of the series will be at Titan Field Tuesday (7 p.m. start).