RALEIGH — In the final week prior to the American Junior Legion regional tournament, the two Cary Post 67 teams faced off in a doubleheader at Athens Drive High School on Wednesday. The Cary Bulls took the opening game 14-10, and the Colts won a shortened 5 ½ inning contest 4-2.
To both coaches, it wasn’t all about winning – it was about preparation for the postseason.
“We focused all year on our pitchers getting ahead in the count, throwing strikes, and not giving up free bases either by errors or walks,” Colts coach Andy Holtgrewe said. “That is a real key for us to be successful – to limit the amount of free bases we give up.”
For Bulls coach Troy Strange, it was about his team getting repetitions.
The Bulls won the opening game via two big five-run innings in the third and the fifth to help propel them to victory over the Colts. Both teams combined for 10 runs in the opening inning alone as the Colts led the Bulls 6-4. The Colts held the lead at 8-4 going into the third, but the big third inning helped put the Bulls in the lead, which they would never relinquish.
“Keeping the ball out of the air” is key for the Bulls to work on after these two games, Strange said. “Getting the guys to hit the ball on the ground or straight line (as) opposed to hitting it into the air.”
Both coaches said they had players missing from the line-up because of the holiday weekend.
“In a line-up of 18 guys, we had 10 or 11 here today, so that was a challenge,” Holtgrewe said.
The Colts won the second game of the twin bill, taking the lead early. The Bulls went ahead 2-1, but then the Colts answered to make it 2-2, where it stood until the top of the sixth, when the Colts posted two runs on back-to-back singles to take the lead. The game was called after that due to darkness.
“We have a very potent offense, we can hit the ball well,” Holtgrewe said. “Where we have been struggling is in our pitching, and our ability to throw strikes, and they came back to bite us a little bit tonight.”