ASHEBORO — When putting together Randolph County Post 45’s schedule every summer, Coach Ronnie Pugh has never shied away from playing the toughest competition he can find.
The same philosophy was used this year as Post 45 has played a very tough non-league schedule in preparation for Area III play.
A two-day event at McCrary Park last weekend featured Post 45 and some of the top programs in the Southeast as Randolph County hosted Cleveland County (Shelby), St. Mary’s of Maryland and Morgantown of West Virginia among the five teams which competed in the event. St. Mary’s and Morgantown had represented their states in past American Legion Regional Tournaments and elected to come back for non-league action.
“It’s nice to see new people because you don’t know what to expect,” Pugh said after the local team recorded a 4-1 win over Cleveland County on Saturday afternoon. “You play and react. That was a quality win. Shelby comes to play. It’s always good to see them and play teams like that because it’s about baseball and that’s what we’re looking for.”
Chatham County, which is fielding a team for the first time in 25 years, also competed, dropping a 7-1 decision to Cleveland County Friday night just before Post 45 saw its game with St. Mary’s canceled in the third inning because of rain and lightning.
On Saturday, Post 45 followed its 4-1 win over Cleveland County with a thrilling come-from-behind 7-4 victory over St. Mary’s. Post 45 trailed 4-3 entering the bottom of the seventh, but an RBI single from Hunter Atkins and a walk-off three-run homer from Braylen Hayes gave Randolph County the victory.
Post 45 completed the weekend action Sunday with a game against Morgantown, which played earlier that day against St. Mary’s and recorded a 13-2 win. In Post 45’s final game against the West Virginia team, Randolph County posted a 14-5 victory to run its winning streak to 13 games and improve its overall record to 14-1 heading into action this week.
“This is the third year we have done this and this was one of the best we had in trying to set up the pitching for the league play, it fell into place,” Pugh said after the final win. “We’re always glad to see those guys.”
Because of the rainy weather experienced all last week and the continued renovations at McCrary Park, there were questions on whether the event could be played. But with a turf field and city workers basically working around the clock, the park opened one night earlier for the Asheboro ZooKeepers’ Coastal Plain League game with Boone.
“Had we been on a dirt field, we probably would have called them on Wednesday and told them not to come,” Pugh said of the weather problems.
Win or lose, teams loved playing in this event.
“I just talked to the Maryland coach for a quick minute and he had just played down in Salisbury (against Rowan County) and talked about how they didn’t play that well, but just playing in a facility like that (Newman Park) was great for the kids and then he said it’s obvious what you guys have done here. It attracts these kinds of teams.”
Teams that made for a very enjoyable weekend of action.