American Legion Baseball

Twenty-five run weekend keeps Nationals unbeaten

cbest@newsobserver.comJune 16, 2014 

Tripp Atkinson

DEAN STRICKLAND;OD — newsobserver.com Buy Photo

— Thanks to a 25-run weekend, the wins keep coming for the Garner Nationals.

The Nationals took back-to-back wins over Randolph County Post 45 Friday night and Saturday afternoon to move to 10-0 in American Legion Baseball this season.

Garner scored 10 runs in its final two at bats of the series opener at historic McCrary Park in Asheboro Friday night to grab a 14-8 victory. Saturday afternoon, the Nationals built a nine-run lead early but had to hang on for an 11-10 decision.

West Johnston grad Jack Sherrill keyed Friday’s comeback in the final two innings with a grand slam home run as part of a six-run eighth inning.

Ryan Wheeler was 2-for-4 with a double and Saylon Kieft went 2-for-5. Sherrill and Taylor Stephens also had two hits each.

Saturday, Garner cranked up its offense in the third inning, down 2-1, when Tripp Atkinson reached on an infield single and scored on Taylor Stephens’ triple to center field. Stephens came in on a wild pitch before Sherrill singled.

Sherrill moved to second on a passed ball and stole third before scoring on a wild pitch with two outs for a 4-2 Garner lead.

Atkinson doubled in Kieft and Nick Stuart to start a five-run fifth for Garner. Sherrill singled in his former West Johnston teammate (Atkinson) to push the lead to 8-2. Stephens added Garner’s ninth run when a Post 45 outfield error allowed him to score.

Garner brought the score within a run of the mercy rule in the fifth. Nick Yarbrough singled in a run and Atkinson doubled in another to run the lead to 11-2.

But the Nationals’ offense slowed from there and Randolph County came alive in the final two innings, getting within 11-10 in the bottom of the ninth. Garner was able to leave the game-tying run stranded at third base and leave with its 10th win in as many outings this season.

Sherrill and Atkinson (three RBIs) had three hits each for Garner Saturday, while Stephens went 2-for-4. Lucas Scott drove in two runs.

The Nationals will play seven conference games between June 17-25 meeting Cary Post 67 (June 17 and 25), Rocky Mount Post 58 (June 18), Apex Post 124 (June 20 and 23) and Raleigh Post 1 (June 21 doubleheader) during that stretch.

Stikeleather lost to wrist injury: The Nationals will be out infielder Josh Stikeleather for the rest of the regular season after he suffered a wrist fracture in Garner’s win over Rocky Mount on June 11. He’s projected to miss the next five weeks so if he dons the red, white and blue flag jersey again, it will mean Garner has qualified for another trip to the state tournament.

Garner’s team finished fourth at last year’s state tournament.

Nationals shortstop signs with Royals: D.J. Burt’s high school graduation came with a $200,000 pay day.

Burt was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the fourth round on June 6, hours after he received his high school diploma from Fuquay-Varina High. He accepted the six-figure signing bonus and flew out Monday for camp in Arizona.

“It’s crazy getting picked so early,” Burt said. “It worked out good, though.”

Burt played shortstop for Fuquay-Varina this spring and hit .423 with four home runs. He was a member of the Garner Nationals American Legion Baseball team this season.

He expects to play this season in Burlington.

“Like my family said, I just got blessed and couldn’t have done it without the Lord,” Burt said. “He just blessed me and my family.”

J. Mike Blake contributed.

Best: 919-524-8895; Twitter: @dclaybest

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