Lee County’s Matt Mears throws off the mound during the third inning of Tuesday night’s rivalry showdown between Mears’ Albany Post 30 squad and Leesburg’s Post 182. Mears shut down Post 182’s bats Tuesday, allowing just two hits and walking one during five innings of work as Post 30 won easily, 7-2. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
ALBANY — Albany Post 30 squared things up with Post 182 from Leesburg on Tuesday with a 7-2 statement win at Paul Eames Park during American Legion region play.
After three tight games between the area teams, the first two coming during non-region play earlier in the season, Post 30 swung the sticks Tuesday, using a four-run fifth inning to blow the game open. The win ties the season series between the two at 2-2, with each team moving to 1-1 in region play after Post 182’s 4-3 region win last week against Post 30.
“Different story (this week),” said Post 30 head coach Benny Waters, who believed — and actually predicted last week — his team would win the remaining three region contests after the loss last Thursday to Post 182. “Hopefully we can finish it out this way.”
Post 30’s Matt Mears picked up the win with five innings of one-run work on the mound. Lee County’s Mears faced just three over the minimum, allowing only two hits and one walk. He struck out four and was so good, Waters didn’t want to pull him after the fifth with a 7-1 lead.
“Matt came in and pitched lights-out,” Waters said. “It was hard for me to pull him out of the game.”
Post 182, meanwhile, couldn’t figure out Mears — the Trojans’ quarterback and third baseman/pitcher. Post 30’s Jake Warren walked to open the game and scored on a double steal to tie things at 1-1 in the first, but that was all Mears would allow.
“He was just changing (speeds) up,” Post 182 head coach Larry Cook said of Mears. “His breaking ball was keeping us off stride.”
Post 30 went through the lineup five times on the night and loaded the bases in the first, second and third against Post 182 starter and Baconton Charter star Brock Pinson, who didn’t have his usual control. Pinson walked five batters and hit three others, but he only allowed two runs before he was pulled in the third after walking Caleb Waters with the bases loaded to give Post 30 a 2-1 edge.
“Brock usually has pretty good control,” Cook said. “He just couldn’t find it (Tuesday).”
Despite leaving nine runners stranded in the first three innings, Post 30 pulled away in the fifth after loading the bases again with two outs. Tanner Stone’s two-run single built a 5-1 cushion before Clint Smith and Brett Shepard added RBI singles.
Post 182’s Eli Reddell scored on a balk in the seventh to cut the lead to 7-2, but Stone closed out the win on the mound for Post 30.
“We’ve played them three times and (each game has been decided) by one run,” Waters said of the previous games this season against Post 182. “(The Post 30 players) needed to make a statement, and they did that. I’m proud of them.”
Stone went 2-for-4 with two RBI to lead Post 30, while Austin Joiner added two hits. Davis Hines and Logan Duckworth had hits for Post 182.
The two rivals meet yet again Saturday beginning at 10 a.m. in the four-team South Georgia Shootout at Paul Eames Park. This weekend’s game will all be non-region contests.
Post 182 will play again at 3 p.m. against Wiregrass American Legion out of Dothan, Ala., at 3 p.m. before Post 30 meets Post 77 from Conyers.
Tournament play resumes Sunday at 10 a.m.