Post 48 suffers first loss at defending state champ Rowan Co.

Cody Dalton
Sports Editor

Continuing a difficult four-game road trip to start its 2016 summer season, Hickory Post 48 ran into its first speed bump Friday in the form of defending American Legion state champion Rowan County.

Post 48 had just three hits against Post 342 and it stranded 10 runners on base in a 5-0 defeat at Newman Park on the campus of Catawba College.

Despite suffering its first loss of the season, Hickory head coach Cameron Beard is proud of his team.

"Overall, I'm happy with our performance," Beard said. "It's hard to be happy with a loss. You want to win them all, but from a mentality standpoint and a competing standpoint, I couldn't have asked for much more from our guys."

Rowan County (2-2) pulled ahead in the fourth inning of the contest with a two-run single by Lee Poteat.

The scoring play came just moments after an apparent double play by Hickory shortstop Dylan Rios was ruled off because the field umpire said Rios did not step on second base.

"We should have put up zero (runs) there," Beard said. "We just couldn't catch that break. We never could get that big hit that we needed. We got guys into scoring position several times early in the game, but we just couldn't get that hit that we needed to push us across and get us started."

Skylar Yoder led the charge offensively for Hickory (2-1) with a team-high two hits, while Caleb Lutjens had the other base knock during a pinch hit at bat in the top of the seventh.

Using the game as a learning experience, Beard and his staff were able to get a first look at many Post 48 players who had not yet seen action so far this season.

"That was the plan coming off two-straight league games," Beard said. "We were able to see Bryce (Stober) behind the plate. Eli (Mathews) got in there. Spencer (Whisnant) started at second. (Tyler) Scronce was in the DH spot. Lutjens came in with a big pinch hit. That was one of our goals. As we compete to win the ball game, let's see what some guys can do. That's part of what these non-league games are for early in the year. We just kind of get a feel for our ball club."

After an off day Saturday, Hickory will try to rebound on Sunday when it travels to Cherryville Post 100 (1-2).

"We've told our guys from day one that we want to challenge them early," Beard said. "We want to go on the road and play the best teams around. If you want to be a team that's there in July having a chance to win this thing, you've got to be able to play three- and four-straight nights. You've got to be able to go on the road and play in big time ball games. We've done a good job thus far. Hopefully we can continue it Sunday at Cherryville."