Haywood County Post 47 did not have to expend a whole lot of energy or pitching in the second round of the American Legion playoffs.
All that stored-up equity should help the baseball team make one final push for the state tournament.
Haywood County blew through Mint Hill in their best-of-five series which ended Thursday night in Waynesville with a sweep.
The wins went to Ethan Meece, Hunter Stewart and Jake Sutton. Meece pitched an 11-strikeout complete game Thursday and the run support was there for a comfortable 9-2 victory at Lake Junaluska Elementary School.
Mint Hill entered the series with an 18-1 record and was the top seed out of the East division of Area IV American Legion. Haywood County (20-5) is the No. 4 seed out of the West.
Post 47 is comprised of college and high school players from Haywood, Jackson and Yancey counties.
“I didn’t sleep a wink the night before just thinking what might happen if we had to go back to Charlotte (for Game 5 on Friday),” Haywood County coach MItchell Whitner said.
“It’s a good relief that we don’t have to worry about that now. We’re feeling good. (Mint Hill) was the top seed out of the East and our guys knew that. They took it as a challenge. We’ve played down to our competition at times, but not this series. They had something to prove. We definitely came out ready to play.”
Gray McCurry and Holt Underwood matched one another with three hits in Thursday’s Game 3, while Jace Milkey, Cal Raleigh and Travis Holden contributed two each.
Haywood County outscored Mint Hill, 22-8, in the three games.
With the sweep, Post 47 can now sit and wait for the winner of another second-round series between Hickory and Union County (Hickory currently leads, 2-1).
The third round of the American Legion playoffs is scheduled to start Monday. Whichever team wins that series automatically qualifies for the American Legion state tournament which is July 24-28 in Salisbury. The Southeast Regional tournament (Aug. 4-9 in Asheboro) and World Series (Aug. 13-18 in Shelby) are also scheduled for North Carolina venues.
Currently, there are three American Legion programs in Western North Carolina. Asheville Post 70 and Henderson County Post 77 both bowed out in the first round of the playoffs.