Somebody had to lose Thursday's deciding game in the second round of the Area III American Legion playoffs. In all honesty, neither team deserved to lose it.
The series between Post 87 and Kernersville is one that will be talked about for some time, especially with the way it all ended in a 9-8 victory for the HiToms at Finch Field.
Post 36 took a two-run lead into the bottom of the ninth, needing only three outs to end the season for the HiToms. After witnessing the events of the eighth inning where Kernersville scored three runs to take the lead, a few of us up in the press box felt it was over.
The Devil Dogs had gotten the leadoff hitter on, but the next batter grounded to second for a sure thing double play. Only the ball took a wicked bounce off the dirt and bounced into the outfield. Kernersville went on to score three runs to lead 8-6.
At that moment it felt like the night was Kernersville's to celebrate. Team president Greg Suire held out hope his Post 87 team would pull it off, saying he would never count them out.
As it turned out, he was right.
The HiToms scored three times, delivering a crushing blow to the Devil Dogs who watched their season end in heartbreak.
The way the entire series had gone, Kernersville was certainly deserving of an appearance in the next round. But so were the HiToms.
After whipping Post 87 in the first game of the series, the Devil Dogs went up 2-0 with a one-run victory. Needing only one win to secure a spot in the next round, Kernersville watched as the HiToms took the next two games by a combined two runs. As luck would have it, the final game was decided by a lone run as well. Of the five games played, four of them were settled by a run. It does not get much closer than that.
This was the fourth straight time the teams have met in the playoffs. In the three previous meetings, the winner of the first game went on to lose the series. That streak has reached four with the latest events.
It is a shame these two teams have to meet so early in the playoffs. Both have the talent to win a state championship. As a matter of fact, Kernersville and Post 87 have represented the Area III at the state tournament the last three seasons. It may be about time to take a look at how the playoffs are set up. There is a very good team going home that could have made a lot of noise at the tournament.
It was a fun series to watch and I commend both teams for their efforts. They clearly have a lot of respect for each other and have represented the area well.
Sports Editor Zach Kepley can be reached at 888-3631, or email@example.com.