Despite an early 1-0 lead against Orange Post 156 SL, Albemarle Post 74’s junior baseball team fell 3-7 in their last regular season game on July 18.
In the first inning, Albemarle’s Hayden Gibson, also a member of William Monroe High School’s varsity baseball team, scored the team’s first run after hitting a double himself and crossing home on another double from McKinley VanDyke. But it was the final three innings that put Orange on top.
Orange’s Hylton Hale made the first run at the top of the fifth. With the bases loaded and two outs already, Orange was unable to secure anymore runs – sending both teams into the sixth inning tied 1-1.
Skylar Robinson hit a single for Orange at the top of the sixth before eventually stealing second base. With singleplays from Caleb Fincham and Hale, Robinson scored Orange’s second run of the night. Orange added two more runs in the top of the sixth, advancing the score in their favor 1-4.
Albemarle attempted a comeback at the bottom of the sixth. Albemarle’s Chase Mallory, also a varsity Monroe player, hit a single advancing to second after Gibson earned a walk to first. A double from VanDyke set the team in motion, allowing Mallory to score a run. The team was only able to score one more run before heading into the seventh inning with a 1-point deficit.
“I’ve got some young kids on the mound, but this is what this is about - developing,” Albemarle Post 74’s junior league head coach Bruce VanDyke said. “I’ve got 18 on the team, and I try to play everybody. They did well [at bat]. But it was just right where someone was at.”
Orange’s Robinson came back in the top of the seventh with a triple, eventually scoring Orange’s fifth run on a single-play by Aaron Henshaw. Henshaw and Hale put up the last two points for Orange.
Albemarle was unable to close the gap, ending the regular season match-up in a 3-7 loss for Albemarle.
“That one inning with bunting was better, and that’s something we’ve been working on is bunting. They’re young and they’re learning,” Bruce VanDyke said. “Communication in this game was by far the best. We had a couple errors, but we had some fantastic plays, too. This one hurts badly, but I consider us the best team in the district. The two games we lost before this one were pretty much the same deal of developing kids instead of staying with your starters. I just love seeing young kids get out here and get better.”
Albemarle ended their regular season 7-3 overall, placing them in the No. 2 seed heading into post-season play. They were scheduled to play in the first round after press time Tuesday.