SHELBY — In a World Series filled with mostly newcomers to Shelby, the two teams with recent experience in Shelby squared off under the lights to conclude the first day of play.
Randolph County Post 45, in the World Series for the third straight year, battled to an 8-4 win over Shrewsbury, Mass., Post 397 in its second World Series in three years with no returners from the 2017 team.
Small ball was the theme of the day as both teams worked counts, were aggressive on the basepaths and took advantage of mistakes.
After the leadoff batter popped out, Randolph got three straight singles from Trevor Marsh, Spencer Lanier and Austin Curry to score the first run of the game.
In the bottom of the frame, Shrewsbury got two men on and John West grounded out to the right side to bring home TJ Morgera, who stole third to set up the opportunity.
In the top of the second Braxton Davis hit a 1-0 pitch over the left field fence to retake the lead for a rare power display in the contest.
“I took the first pitch because it was kind of quick and I was late on it, Davis said. “The second pitch I decided to speed up a bit, got my hands through it and hit it well.”
Shrewsbury leveled again on a wild pitch in the fourth inning which brought home John West.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Shrewsbury once again was busy on the bases and Morgera was at the heart of it again, walking then stealing second and third with one out. His aggressiveness paid off as he scored on an RBI groundout again by West, giving Massachusetts a 3-2 lead despite having only one hit.
In the sixth, Randolph County used some small ball as well, to great success.
The North Carolina team started the inning with two walks and loading the bases on a sacrifice bunt attempt which Shrewsbury couldn’t find an out on.
Randolph brought home six runs in the next six batters on a walk, wild pitch, fielders choice, double by Trevor Marsh, walk and wild pitch.
“I got behind in the count so I choked up on the bat and stepped in and just put the bat on the ball and he supplied all the power,” said Marsh, one of three players in his third Legion World Series for Randolph County. “This year I came back more confident and relaxed. It’s always fun to be here with my teammates in front of a big crowd.”
Morgera scored again in the seventh on another fielders choice, but the Shrewsbury late rally was thwarted.
Davis is another three-year member of this Randolph team and he added, “It’s a great feeling. It is so cool to play in front of all these fans. It is so cool.”
Randolph County resumes pool play on Saturday at 4 p.m., against a Fargo, N.D., Post 2 team that lost its opener on Thursday. The game will be televised live on ESPNU.