LELAND – Chandler Lennon pitched a two-hitter and had solid defensive support Tuesday as West Bladen claimed its third straight North Carolina Dixie Pre-Majors baseball championship with a 5-2 win over Duplin County.
West Bladen will open the Dixie Pre-Majors World Series on July 25 against the state champion from Alabama. The tournament will be played in Guntersville, Alabama. Other state champions in the event will be from Virginia, Mississippi, Arkansas, Texas, South Carolina, Florida, Tennessee, Georgia and Louisiana, along with the host team from Guntersville.
Lennon, a rising senior, struck out two, walked five and hit a batter while allowing only a pair of fourth-inning singles in Tuesday’s win at North Brunswick High School. Defensively, the Knights made only two errors, but that was more than offset by making the routine plays. Outfielders Jeremy Hunt, Seth Britt and Donald McCullum caught a combined six fly balls. Lennon got five outs on grounders back to the mound. Catcher Scott Bowen didn’t allow a wild pitch and had only one passed ball. Infielders Jarrett Williams, Ray Jones, Weston Pidgeon and Trent West made the plays when needed.
Offensively, West was 2-for-2 with a double with two runs batted in. Britt, Bowen, Lennon and Pidgeon each had a hit against Duplin County’s Jacob Teachey, who went the distance and struck out nine. Lennon had two RBIs while Bowen had one.
“Chandler pitched a good game,” West Bladen coach Kim Cain said, “especially after he settled down from early in the game. The defense was excellent. Offensively, we didn’t get that many hits. (Teachey) kept us off balance.
“I’m glad we won. Now, we need the support of the community to help us raise money to get to Alabama.”
Lennon walked the first two batters he faced, then, after the next two batters were retired, he walked a third batter to load the bases. However, the next batter hit a grounder to Jones at second, who tossed to Pidgeon for the force out and end the threat.
The Knights got on the board in their first at-bat. Hunt opened with a walk, stole two bases, then scored on West’s two-out infield single.
Duplin County threatened again in the third when an error, walk and passed ball put runners on second and third with two outs. The next batter grounded to West at third, who threw to Williams at first to end the inning.
West Bladen added three unearned runs in the third inning to open a 4-0 lead. With two outs, Britt reached second on an infield error, Bowen followed with a single up the middle that scored Britt. West then ripped a double that drove home courtesy runner Caleb Sholar. Lennon’s single to right scored West.
Duplin County cut the lead in half with a pair of runs in the fourth inning, using a pair of singles, a hit batter, sacrifice fly and throwing error.
West Bladen scored its final run in the fifth inning. Britt had a one-out single, Bowen walked and West was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Lennon had a sacrifice fly to left that scored Britt.
Lennon retired the final seven batters he faced, including striking out the final batter to end the game.
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