MOREHEAD CITY — The West Carteret Post 46 Junior American Legion baseball team needs to make some travel plans.
The Canes are headed to the state tournament in High Point next weekend after sweeping White Oak in the best-of-three series to capture the District 2 Northern Conference title.
West earned a 5-3 home victory Thursday and an 8-3 road win Friday to move to 13-1 on the season.
“This team has played together for two or three years, so they are starting to gel,” coach Al Morris said. “It’s made up of ninth and 10th graders from West Carteret, and a couple of kids from Croatan, and those two have played with this group on travel ball, so this is a special group right here.”
The pitching staff gave up just two hits in each contest with Brandon Conway taking the win each night. He went five innings on Friday, giving up three runs (none earned) in five innings while striking out three and walking four. On Thursday, he threw just one inning of no-hit ball.
Damon McAnallen, pitched two innings of relief Friday and didn’t surrender a run or a hit.
On Thursday, Matthew McCray did most of the work, throwing 4 2/3 innings, giving up two runs (none earned) on one hit while striking out four and walking four. McAnallen spent one inning on the mound to earn the save, giving up one run on one hit while striking out three and walking none. Jamie Register also made an appearance.
“We’re a pretty solid team,” Morris said. “Our pitching has been strong. We’ve got six to seven kids that can pitch. We’re pretty deep with our pitching. We’ve got a lot of guys, so we can have them on a short leash.”
The hitting was nearly as impressive as the pitching with Post 46 holding a 22-4 advantage over White Oak during the two nights.
Al Morris III led the way Friday as the Canes outhit their rival 13-2. He put up a 3-for-3 effort with a double and two runs. Jamie Register and Joseph Croswell had two hits each with Register legging out two triples and adding an RBI and a run and Croswell accounting for two RBIs and a run.
Tyler Deluzio, Jesse Safrit, Conway and McAnallen tallied a hit apiece with Deluzio and McAnallen each driving in a run.
C.W. Bayer and C.J. Garner also had a hit apiece.
Conway and McCray had a hit apiece Thursday as the team outhit White Oak 9-2 with Register, Croswell and McAnallen each collecting a hit. Register and McAnallen added an RBI apiece, and Conway scored twice.
Blaine Norris and Spencer Bryan also each had a hit.
The Canes captured comeback wins each night, thanks to four-run innings. They trailed 3-1 heading into the fifth Friday before scoring four in the frame to take the lead for good. On Thursday, Post 46 trailed 2-1 entering the bottom of the sixth when it posted four runs to pull away.
“We just stayed after them,” Morris said. “We never gave up. The boys have done it all year long. Everything has been solid this year, the hitting, the pitching, the defense, and the effort has been there every game. They have a super attitude. That is all you can ask of them.”