Scoring multiple runs in four different innings, the Columbia Post 19 Seniors extended their winning streak Tuesday night with a 12-8 victory over host Pulaski Post 60 at Sam Davis Park.
Dawson Hargrove’s two-run home run jumpstarted the visitors’ four-run fifth-inning rally that proved to be the difference in the contest, after Post 60 rallied from an early 2-0 deficit with five runs in the bottom of the first against starter Hudson Adams.
Post 19 (5-1) tied the game in the second, as Peyton Groves drove in Caden Czajka and Brett Bell followed with two of his three RBIs. A Nathaniel Huntzinger double and a Post 60 infield error contributed to three runs in the third as the visitors went ahead 8-5.
Meanwhile, the bullpen tandem of Ben Farrell, Bryson Hammons, Czajka and Huntzinger teamed to keep the hosts virtually in check the rest of the way. Hargrove’s homer, another Post 60 error and a Huntzinger RBI groundout pushed the Post 19 cushion to 12-5, before the hosts picked up three runs in their final at-bat.
Brantly Whitwell, Groves and Bell — the top three hitters in the Post 19 batting order — each had a pair of the team’s nine hits, with Whitwell and Groves scoring twice. Hargrove also scored a pair of runs, as did Max Ballard, who went hitless but did not recorded an at-bat, drawing three walks.
On the mound, Post 19 struck out 13 hitters and allowed just six hits.
Riding a four-game streak, the Columbians resume play this weekend at the Troy (Ala.) Post 70 Fathers Day Invitational. They’re scheduled to face Tupelo (Miss.) Post 49 in a 2 p.m. matchup Friday at Troy University, followed by a 4 p.m. game vs. Gauthier-Amadee (La.) and a 12 noon contest Saturday against Covington (Ga.) Post 32. The tourney concludes on Sunday.
Post 19 next plays at Columbia State’s Dave Hall Field on June 23 against Old Hickory Baseball. Game time is 6 p.m.
COLUMBIA — For Scott Beasley and the Columbia Post 19 Seniors, Tuesday night’s first game of the season against visiting Huntsville (Ala.) Post 237 was just that – a first game.
The two teams combined for 28 walks, four hit batters and just 11 hits as the hosts won 17-5 in six innings.
Originally scheduled as a doubleheader, rain delayed the start and rust prompted both coaching staffs to cut the night short.
“It served a purpose,” Beasley said regarding the contest. “We saw a couple of things. I liked the effort. It’s always a positive when they play hard.”
Weather aside, the night got off to a rough start as Post 19 starter Dawson Hargrove walked four in two-thirds of an inning before he was stunningly ejected by the field umpire, presumably for expressing his displeasure over a questionable strike zone.
Taking advantage of six hits and 16 free passes, Post 19 scored multiple runs in four of its five at-bats – including seven in the fifth inning, when they sent 12 to the plate, drew six walks and recorded just two outs before going back on defense.
Brett Bell had two of Post 19’s six hits, with Nathaniel Huntzinger and Brandon O’Brien each adding singles. Drake Blackwood doubled, as did Brantly Whitwell; the Spring Hill graduate and Columbia State signee added one of those ‘effort’ plays as he ranged into the left-center field alley to flag down a deep drive by the visitors and save a fourth-inning run.
Hargrove was the first of six pitchers to see work for the hosts. He, Ben Farrell, Shelton Blackwell, Hudson Adams, Huntzinger and Caden Czajka combined to allow five hits and strike out 12.
For the most part, though, the game was an opportunity for Post 19 to get on the field before traveling to Murray, Ky., this weekend for the Mayfield Post 26 Invitational tournament.
“The Summertown kids had a little quicker turnaround,” Beasley said, referring to Blackwood and Grant and Gavin Burleson, who played in the Class A state tournament a couple of weeks ago. “For most of these guys, it was their first time (to play competitively) in a month.
“We’re just knocking the rust off. Pretty much everybody got three at-bats, their first against live pitching in a while. We’ll build on it this weekend. There’s a lot to build on and a long way to go.”
Looking to get back on the field for the first time since August 2019, Scott Beasley and his Columbia Post 19 Seniors may have to wait a little longer.
Scheduled to open the 2021 season with a Tuesday doubleheader at Columbia State’s Dave Hall Field against Huntsville (Ala.) Post 237, the weather forecast doesn’t look favorable for those games to be played.
“After last summer, having to cancel for COVID purposes, it feels like it’s been forever since we’ve been out there,” Beasley said. “It’s certainly something to look forward to.
“You don’t realize you miss it until you go a summer without it. We’re definitely glad to be back out there. (But) Tuesday’s games are very much in doubt.”
When Beasley’s bunch does take the field, it’ll be a differently constructed roster than most he has previously encountered.
“A lot of years we have the set five or six ‘pitchers only’, you’ve got 10 or 11 position players and you’ve got your set everyday lineup,” he said. “It’s pretty easy to make the lineup out every day. This team is really deep on two-way players that can do a little bit of everything. A lot of guys can do both. Juggling lineups is going to be way harder.”
Of the 17-player roster, 12 are listed as pitchers; nine of those are listed at other positions as well.
Leading that contingent are three players from the Summertown team that reached the Final Four of the Class A high school state tournament a couple of weeks ago – Columbia State signee Grant Burleson, the Tennessee Baseball Coaches Association’s Class A Mr. Baseball, and Eagle teammates Drake Blackwood and Gavin Burleson.
Spring Hill’s Brantly Whitwell (Columbia State) and Dawson Hargrove (Southwest Tennessee) are also two-way players, as are Columbia Central’s Caden Czajka and Marshall County’s Ryan Kirby (Martin Methodist) and Bryson Hammons.
“It’s exciting and challenging, making sure everybody gets playing time,” Beasley said. “Some of your top hitters are also some of your top pitchers. It’s definitely a little different dynamic, but something I’m excited for to see how it all fits together.”
Adding to the challenge is that, with last year’s off year, none of this year’s team members have played for Beasley, who has coached the Post 19 Seniors since 2011.
“Usually the way our team rolls over, you always have five or 10 kids each summer that you’ve already had one year, if not two,” he said. “It’s definitely almost like completely starting over.
“I think the first few weeks are going to be – I don’t want to say difficult, but might be bumpy, getting everything figured out, kids figuring out their roles.”
Columbia Academy catcher Max Ballard (Freed-Hardeman) and former Spring Hill infielder Brett Bell (Jackson State) are also on the roster, along with recent Raider graduates Brandon O’Brien (Martin Methodist) and Nathaniel Huntzinger (Freed-Hardeman).
With so many players heading to various collegiate programs at the conclusion of the summer season, Beasley considers the presence of former Post 19 standouts Will McCall and Colton Teal on his coaching staff (along with Chris Sockwell) a key factor.
“It’s always good to have a couple of guys that are still playing in college (McCall at Freed-Hardeman, Teal at North Alabama) that can relate to the kids – let the kids pick their brains on how it is at different schools, what to expect when they get to college,” he said. “Knock on wood, usually everybody that plays for us is either already signed to play somewhere or on campus somewhere, or they want to sign somewhere and get a chance to play college baseball.
“Part of our job is getting them ready for that different mindset, trying to get them ready for that transition. I don’t care what level you go to, that first week of fall practice at the college level slaps everybody in the face. We try to get them as ready for that as we can.”
The 2019 edition of the Post 19 Seniors finished 17-12-2, dropping both its games at the American Legion Southeast Regional Tournament in Tampa.
Beasley’s looking for an improved product this time around.
“I think the strength of this team will be pitching,” he said. “Hargrove was great for Spring Hill this year, both Burlesons were good for Summertown. (Carson) Cheek was Marshall County’s No. 1.
“I think this is a good group. I’m definitely excited to see how they play.”
Pat Swallows, executive director of the Tennessee Baseball Coaches Association, announced Wednesday that the organization’s upcoming clinic has been canceled because of pandemic concerns.
“We’d been working all fall for this, hoping things would calm down and get, not necessarily back to normal, but at least better,” Swallows said of the three-day event, scheduled for Jan. 15-17 at the Cool Springs Marriott. “We don’t want to put coaches in a situation where – if something were to happen, it would kill me.”
Along with the clinic, the event includes an awards luncheon and hall of fame induction. Former Loretto coach Gary Lamm was to be inducted next month along with Grace Christian’s Brad Myers, Friendship Christian’s John McNeal, longtime Knoxville amateur baseball figure Dwight Smith and Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin.
The inductions will instead take place during the 2022 convention.
“It’s just one of those tough things we’re going through,” Lamm said. “If it has to be canceled, so be it. I’m all for doing what’s right. It’s out of our control. It’s not the end of the world.
“I know it’s a call Pat hated to make, but looking at the numbers, it’s the right call, I’d say. You don’t want to put anybody at risk. I know the coaches I talked to were looking forward to it, but he’s trying to do what’s best.”
Now in its 29th year, the three-day clinic typically draws more than 400 coaches, Swallows said.
“We had 475 last year,” he said. “Our numbers were small (to this point), but normally after Christmas, the first of the year, is when a lot of the coaches register. I felt it was better to pull the plug now.
Amongst a collection of some of the top minority baseball prospects in the country, Tears took a called strike three to lead off the game for the Larry Doby team – named for the first African-American to play in the American League – and drew a walk to load the bases in the top of the third inning, then later re-entered the game and grounded out to second base in the eighth.
“I had some good at-bats, went deep in (pitch) counts,” Tears said after the Jackie Robinson team won a 6-4 decision. “I hadn’t seen live pitching since early October, so I wasn’t terribly disappointed with my performance.
“It was mainly just about having fun. I’ve never been a part of anything like this, with all the best minority players in the country, all playing against each other. I love it.”
Tears was one of two UT 2021 recruiting class members participating in Saturday’s showcase event, along with infielder Christian Moore. Vanderbilt had a trio of representatives in the contest – 2021 commitment Kenneth Mallory and ’22 commits R.J. Austin and Andruw Jones Jr.
Also playing was Knoxville Catholic junior outfielder/pitcher Kaden Martin, the son of former UT quarterback and current Volunteers receivers coach (and Mobile native) Tee Martin. The younger Martin, playing with Tears, went 2-for-2 with a double.
“This is great for our kids,” said Rodrick Tears, Kavares’ father. “These kids can play.”
More than a dozen scouts from across Major League Baseball were on hand for the contest, along with representatives from various college baseball coaching staffs.
“I think it was a great weekend for the guys,” said veteran Georgia high school baseball coach Alexander Wyche, founder/CEO of Minority Baseball Prospects. “For the first year, getting these kids from all around the country, we couldn’t have asked for a better event. It’s great to give these guys an opportunity. We’re really pleased with it.”
Maurice Patton is the editor for Southern Middle Tennessee Sports. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @mopatton_sports.
Calling Gary Lamm after 8:30 or so Tuesday night may not have been the best idea, after the big news from earlier in the day involving one of his protégés.
When the San Diego Padres announced their roster for the National League Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Ryan Weathers was on it – making the former Loretto High School two-sport standout likely to become the fifth player ever to make his Major League Baseball debut in the postseason.
“I couldn’t believe it,” said Lamm, the Mustangs’ longtime coach who retired earlier this year after 26 seasons – including a 2017 campaign that culminated, with Weathers as a key cog, in a Class A state championship.
“To make the playoff roster and get that major league experience is great. I know he’s excited, I’m excited for him. (Parents) David and Kelli and the family are excited. All of Loretto, I guess, is excited.”
Game 1 of the best-of-5 series was set for an 8:38 p.m. (CT) first pitch at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas.
Prior to 2020, only two players had made their MLB debuts during the playoffs – Oakland Athletics second baseman Mark Kiger in 2006 and Kansas City Royals shortstop Adalberto Mondesi in 2015.
That number has doubled in the past week or so, with Minnesota Twins outfielder Alex Kirilloff starting Game 2 of his team’s AL Wild Card-round loss to the Houston Astros and Shane McClanahan coming out of the bullpen Monday night and working the final one-third inning of Tampa Bay’s 9-3 ALDS Game 1 loss to the New York Yankees.
“This year is truly a year unlike any other,” Baseball America executive editor J.J. Cooper said. “Not having (a Minor League) season and only a 60-game MLB season has created an unusual environment, plus no September roster expansion, (to) where we are seeing players jump to the majors in the playoffs.”
Weathers’ situation is more eyecatching when considering that, with the Padres selecting him seventh overall in the 2018 MLB Draft, he has yet to play beyond Class A.
“It looks puzzling, but had this been a normal year, he probably would have and it wouldn’t seem as unusual,” Cooper said. “Say he’d started at (Class AA), had a good first half, moved up to Triple-A and gotten a September callup, for instance.
“Instead, he was at the alternate site, but from all our reporting, he was really good there. From that end, here comes the reward.”
The left-hander was the second Gatorade National Player of the Year picked in the first round by San Diego in as many years, following North Carolina high school product Mackenzie Gore – who, by all accounts, Weathers apparently moved past during this summer’s work at the alternate site.
Despite the lack of experience, it’s pretty clear he’s not just on the roster for the exposure to the atmosphere.
“The Padres feel comfortable bringing him up in the most important series they’ve played in more than a decade,” Cooper said. “You’re seeing teams say, ‘we can have this guy, put a guy like this in the ‘pen, we may get some useful innings out of him’.
“It says a lot for him, but it’s not shocking, considering his background.”
David Weathers, Ryan’s father, pitched with eight different teams over a 19-year MLB career and earned a World Series championship ring with the Yankees in 1996 – three years before Ryan was born.
“They clearly think he can handle a big stage, considering he’s never been on it before,” Cooper said. “It’s a five-game series with no off days. You’re not putting anyone on the roster you don’t expect to use. You don’t put him on the roster if you don’t expect to use him.”
With that said, it’s less a matter of if Weathers will make his debut during the NLDS and more a case of when he’ll do so.