Sitting in the dugout, Post 48 head coach Fore Rembert could only watch on as his team's season came to a close.
Shelby pulled ahead by four runs early and held off a late rally by Hickory to win game four on Sunday, 5-3, at Henkel-Alley Field.
Post 82 (33-7) clinches the best-of-five third round playoff series, 3-1, and advances to the Area IV finals against Lincoln County (20-13).
"The series was really well played," said Rembert, who wasn't allowed to coach the team after being ejected in 10-5 game three road loss on Friday. "Shelby has a great team. They do a great job with their program. I felt like our kids played really well, too … I hate losing more than I like winning. At the same time, we were down a little bit and still found a way to hang in for four games in the third round. I'm really proud of our kids for that. This season has been tremendous. We've got 21 wins. The boys did everything we asked them to do. They did everything they were supposed to do. We are extremely proud of them."
Hickory took an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning.
After Ky'rawn Whitfield led off the inning with a triple, Davis Hanvey brought him home on a ground out to give Post 48 an early one-run advantage.
Shelby answered to tie the game in the top of the second on a Phillip Black RBI double.
By the top of the third, Post 82 took its first lead in the game — one it did not give up. Included in the inning were RBI singles by Jay Seagle and Brock Melton.
Post 82 padded its lead to 5-1 with one run each in the fourth and sixth innings.
Nick Hastings scored in both innings, including on an error by Hickory left fielder Kyle Kelly and a wild pitch by Post 48 starter Tyler Pait.
Hickory rallied in bottom of the sixth behind the bat of Aaron Rudisill, who drove in two runs on a single. The hit scored Hanvey and Zach Jarrett, making it a 5-3 game.
However, nine of the final 10 Post 48 batters were retired in order to end the game and series.
Jarrett led Hickory offensively with three hits, while Colton Chapman added two.
Post 48 ends its 2013 campaign with a 21-11 record.
Rembert is proud of what his team accomplished in its American Legion baseball season this summer.
"Hats off to our guys," Rembert said. "It was a great season. There aren't many teams that can say they've won 21 games around here. We played some good baseball and battled a lot of weather. I'm tickled to death with the kids. It was a great year. I hate ending it. I can't stand this. I like playing all the way through, but we were two games away from playing for a state championship. That's the kind of program we want to be. We want to be that close every year and in it."