Post 60 throws combined no-hitter, Post 19 picks up pivotal Game 2 victory

By Maurice Patton

COLUMBIA – Only one number mattered to Scott Beasley at the end of the Post 19 Seniors’ matchup Saturday night against Pulaski Post 60 in Game 2 of the best-of-5 American Legion state championship series:


Despite being no-hit, Beasley’s squad was able to parlay 11 walks and a pair of errors into a 5-3 victory and move within one win of the state title and a berth in the Southeast Regional tournament in Pelham, Ala.

“At this point, it’s all about wins and losses,” Beasley said after his team’s unorthodox path to a 2-0 series lead, following Friday’s 14-4, six-inning win in Pulaski. “It’s better to be on this end than the other end.

“It’s a little hard to hit when the pitcher is wild like the first two or three innings. We had chances to break it open; we just couldn’t get the big hit. We had good at-bats. There were just a couple of times we had nothing to show for it.”

Four walks and an error helped Post 19 score twice in its opening at-bat, and three more second-inning free passes plus another miscue helped offset a Gerry Wayne Davis double and a Donoven Pearson RBI base hit off starter Shelton Blackwell.

Pulaski managed to tie the game in the third inning. Blackwell issued a leadoff walk to Kyler Parker, and Herlan Duran promptly drilled a triple into the left-center gap before scoring on a Hogan Whitt infield groundout.

Back-to-back walks from Post 60 starter Alex Killen ended his night in the fourth inning, with Whitt relieving him. Dawson Hargrove drew another walk, loading the bases, and a wild pitch scored Skyler Trousdale before Grant Burleson’s infield groundout drove in Brantly Whitwell.

“I thought (Killen) was good; he was just all over the zone,” Post 60 coach Fred Aymett said. “Columbia’s hitters are really patient. They took a lot of walks, and we let runners move up too easily.”

Blackwell, meanwhile, was consistent – and at times, dominant, finishing with nine strikeouts and just the one walk while scattering eight hits in the complete game victory.

“He just competes, game-in and game-out,” Beasley said of Blackwell, a Freed-Hardeman signee from Hickman County. “He limits his walks, he pounds the (strike) zone and he just gives you his best effort every game.”

In going the distance, Blackwell surprised himself as well as the coaching staff.

“I had expected to go five (innings),” the left-hander said. “We’re hoping to go to region; I thought they’d save my arm a little. I went seven and got the win, with the team behind my back.”

“We were targeting five, into the sixth if possible,” Beasley said. “But he got really efficient. They started putting balls in play early in the count. But we’d have been happy with five.”

Blackwell retired nine of the final 10 hitters he faced, sitting Post 60 down in order in both the sixth and seventh innings. He picked up three of his strikeouts over the final three frames, even as his fastball rarely sees the mid-80s.

“I was just trying to keep my fastball fast, but under control,” he said. “Sometimes it gets a little high. I just have to slow down.”

With the victory at Columbia State’s Dave Hall Field, Post 19 needs just one more – either Sunday at 3 p.m. at Sam Davis Park, Monday at 6 p.m. back at Columbia State or Tuesday at 6 in Pulaski – to advance.

Blackwell’s work Saturday will likely have an impact on his team’s pitching options over the remainder of the series.

“We saved multiple arms,” he said. “That means we can go deeper into the tournament, if we have to.”

Whitt had a pair of singles to lead Post 60 offensively, with six other players adding a hit apiece.

“At least we were competitive,” Aymett said.

Game 2
Columbia Post 19 5, Pulaski Post 60 3

P 012 000 0 – 3 8 2
C 210 200 x – 5 0 0

Alex Killen, Hogan Whitt (4) and Gerry Wayne Davis. Shelton Blackwell and Max Ballard. W – Blackwell. L – Killen.

Photos by Chris Yow / SM-Tn Sports

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