RALEIGH — Cary Senior American Legion coach Ron Powell, a winner of five Junior Legion state titles, was brought out of a quick retirement this summer.
Players who had played for him in Junior Legion wanted him to coach two more seasons with them in Senior Legion, and he agreed.
Their first regular season together on the Senior Legion level didnt end the way either party had hoped.
Needing at least one win on Thursday in a doubleheader against Durham Post 7 to clinch the conference title, Cary Post 67 lost both games. The 8-5 and 7-5 wins gave Durham the conference title going into Sundays playoffs.
Durham will play a best-of-five series against Garner (which features players from Fuquay-Varina and Middle Creek high schools), and Cary will face Johnston County.
It also eliminated Raleigh Post 1 which has players from Cary High from playoff contention.
We beat (Durham) 10-0 a month ago in an hour and 24 minutes. They got two hits and we beat them in every possible way you can beat a team. Then they come out here and beat us twice in two seven-inning games, Powell said.
Were at the point now where we start our playoffs Sunday ... and if we play like weve played recently itll be a very short series and our season will be over.
Cary Senior Legion (16-12, 8-4), which features players from Cary Academy, Athens Drive, Green Hope and Cardinal Gibbons, lost six of its past seven games to close out the regular season.
Injuries have moved around some players from their natural positions, which hasnt helped the already-tough transition from Junior Legion to Senior Legion.
Theres something about 18-year-old boys they just dont make the same commitment, Powell said. We have not had one single game this entire season (where) weve had all our players at the game. Its disappointing. We had the talent.
Powell said he takes the blame for some of the mental errors that have reared their head in the past few weeks like getting doubled up on a fly ball with runners on second and third.
But theres still something missing, he said, from the trademark of his always-tough Junior Legion teams.
The thing that makes my team my team is we pitch well and we play good defense, and were not pitching well and were not playing good defense, Powell said.
The winners of the Garner-Durham and Cary-Johnston County series will meet the following weekend. Johnston Countys home games are played at Smithfield-Selma High, while Cary has used Green Hope and Athens Drive.
Blake: 919-460-2606 or twitter.com/JMBpreps.