On just a few days rest, Colton Allison had the best pitching performance of his entire American Legion baseball career on Thursday.
The former St. Stephens and current CVCC pitcher tossed a three-hit shutout, helping Hickory pick up a 2-0 game two victory against Gaston at Henkel-Alley Field.
With the victory, Post 48 (18-8) ties its series with the Braves at one game apiece.
Hickory head coach Fore Rembert was emotional talking about Allison’s play on the strong relationship between the two.
“He is very coachable,” Rembert said of Allison. “He understands what he is doing. Everything he does, he has a purpose. We work very well together. He and I work better together than me and my brother Aaron did. I’m just really proud of him. I’m proud of all these guys.”
After a 1-2-3 first inning, Allison ran into trouble with one out in the second by loading the bases on two walks, a fielder’s choice and a single.
Focusing his energy on his teammates, Allison worked his way out of the jam by forcing a pair of fly ball outs to end the inning.
“I knew more than anything that I didn’t want to disappoint the team,” Allison said of his second-inning struggles. “Their runners getting on base was my fault. I wanted to make sure they didn’t score because I wanted our team to win.”
Rembert said Allison’s gutsy play in the second inning is something other pitchers should model their games after.
“Any time you see a pitcher in major baseball like we play start a couple of innings into a game with runners on second and third with no outs and they don’t score, he is what many pitchers refer to as a ‘master craftsman,’” Rembert said. “He understands what he is doing. More young kids should come watch him pitch and understand.”
Allison built momentum off of the second inning by retiring nine consecutive batters in the third, fourth and fifth innings.
After tallying 11 hits in a game one win, Allison allowed just three base knocks by the Braves in Thursday’s contest, including one each in the second, seventh and eighth.
“They are a good hitting team,” Allison said of Gaston. “I was aware of that. I just wanted to find myself and ended up doing it in the third. I settled in from there and did what coach said. It works every time.”
Post 48 second baseman Tyler Pait, who missed the first game of the series with Gaston on Wednesday because of school orientation, made up for lost time in game two.
Pait’s line drive single to right field with two outs in the sixth inning finally gave Allison some comfort in the form of a 1-0 lead.
“I was just trying to do what is best for the team and see the ball in late there with two strikes,” Pait said. “I got a pitch out over the plate and was able to put a good swing on it.”
Colton Chapman added an insurance run in the eighth inning on a RBI double, scoring Davis Hanvey.
Chapman, who pitched the game one agianst Gaston, was impressed with Allison’s play on the mound.
“He kept the ball down all night and kept them off balance,” Chapman said of Allison. “He did a heck of a job on the mound. Once we got that first run, it gave him that much more momentum to go out there and shut them down.”
Hickory tallied nine hits offensively, including two each off of the bats of Phillip Carroll, Chapman and Pait.
Game three of the series takes place at 7 p.m. tonight at Red Raider Field on the campus of South Point High School in Belmont.
Game four returns to Hickory on Saturday for a 7 p.m. contest at Henkel-Alley Field.
Chapman said winning on Thursday sets his team up nicely for games three and four of the series.
“We were faced with adversity after that first loss,” he said. “That’s really the first time since the Cherryville and Caldwell games that we have faced adversity. It shows you how strong we are as a team to be able to rebound in a close game, execute and get the job done.”
Allison believe a couple of key factors will decide how he and his teammates fair the rest of the series.
“You have to rely on your coach,” Allison said. “He knows what he is doing. He is a genius. We’ve just got to come together and play like we know how to play Post 48 baseball. If we do that, we’re going to win.”