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Some highlights from the American Legion baseball season:
Grand efforts: Alex Memory and Logan Tripp each hit grand slams, the first of their careers, during the Junior American Legion season. Memory’s slam in a 17-5 victory June 13 over Hampstead bounced off the black tarp behind the center-field fence at West Brunswick High School. Tripp’s slam scored the game-winning runs in the Trojans’ 10-0 victory July 11 over Leland Post 68.
Quickest home run: It seemed as if the ball rose no more than 20 feet when Jay Gause lined a home run to center field in a loss July 16 to Leland Post 68.
Best-looking home run: A Mohawk haircut never looked so good as it did on Alex Memory when he hit a home run against Wayne County South in a 5-3 victory July 19 in the Eastern qualifier in Cary.
Wouldn’t want to be there: On May 31, the Trojans had a 12-0 lead entering the bottom of third inning against Socastee. Socastee then rallied to tie the score 12-12. I’m unsure what manager Mike Alderson told his team after that inning, but the Trojans outscored Socastee 12-1 in the next two innings to win.
All alone: In a scoreless loser-out game July 19 with Wayne County South in the Eastern qualifier, the Trojans had a pinch runner on base. A Trojan batter bunted to advance the runner. The batter was tagged a few feet from home plate and called “out” by the umpire. The pinch runner stopped running on the play and walked to first base, where he was tagged out. He told Alderson, coaching at first, he thought the umpire said “foul.” Alderson was so upset he was speechless. He walked about 15 feet behind first base in foul territory, crouched and watched the rest of the inning alone. The Trojans eventually won 5-4.
Coaching clinic: Whenever his team fell behind, Alderson encouraged his players to never give up. It was obvious the players fed off his enthusiasm and his no-quit attitude: They won 27 of 34 games.
Good try: He didn’t get the out, but Brunswick County Post 68 shortstop Pat Kamfolt had a remarkable effort. A groundball was hit to his right. He had to run toward third base and onto the right field grass to stop the ball. In one motion, he pivoted into the air and threw the ball on target to first base. The runner was safe, but the play showed how athletic Kamfolt is.
Best play: Trojan right fielder Jesse Simmons had a number of outstanding catches in a 5-4 victory July 19 against Wayne County South in the Eastern qualifier. The best came on fly ball hit to the gap between center field and right field. As he and Blain Turner ran toward the ball, it seemed as if they would run into each other. At the last second, Simmons dived and caught the ball. He and Turner somehow avoided serious injury.
Hustle award: Wally Kamfolt’s inside-the-park home run June 28 against Morehead in a 14-8 victory for Brunswick County Post 68. “He was hustling out of the box,” manager Randy Fennell said. “If he hadn’t been hustling out of the box, he never would have had that opportunity.”
Craziest game: The Trojans’ 18-13 victory in 10 innings over Ledford Post 68 on July 2 ran so long into the night the sprinklers came on. The game, the second of a doubleheader, ended 15 minutes before midnight.
Craziest game No. 2: Seven Trojans pitchers gave up 13 walks and 15 hits in a 22-11 loss July 16 to Leland Post 68.
Clutch pitching: In the Eastern qualifier, Alderson decided to save two pitchers—Randy Daniels and Marquise Johnson—for the final game of the series. It was a gamble, considering the Trojans had to play four games, not three. But Daniels and Johnson allowed just three runs in the Trojans’ 13-3 victory, which advance the Trojans to the state tournament.
Praised in defeat: In a 4-2 loss to Cherryville in the Junior American Legion state tournament, Brock Holmes gave up three hits and struck out nine. He walked no one. Said Alderson: “It was the best game I saw him pitch—ever.”
Best team effort: After the Trojans lost the first game in the Eastern qualifier, they won three straight loser-out games to qualify for the state tournament. “That showed me something about the kids on this team,” Alderson said. “It showed character.”
Memorable quotes: Mike Alderson, about his team: “I never thought we were out of game. And for the most part, they never thought they were out of a game.”
Randy Fennell, after his Brunswick County Post 68 team finished the regular season 17-2: “Actually, I thought we would be 19-0.”
Logan Tripp, after hitting a grand slam to win a game: “A (grand slam) did briefly cross my mind, but I was like, ‘Man, that’s not going to happen.’ ”
MICHAEL PAUL is the sports editor at the Beacon. Reach him at 754-6890 or at email@example.com.