Home run after running home: Locklear leads Post 5 to sweep

Not only did high school baseball teams not have a 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they had to wait until the end of the school year to play their 2021 season.

When that season finally came this spring, many made it worth the wait.

Purnell Swett reached the third round of the state playoffs as the only playoff team in Robeson County, but all five schools have had strong individual performances this season.

The best are recognized here as part of The Robesonian’s All-County team.

Player of the year

Purnell Swett’s Jonathon Jacobs was dominant on the mound and will pitch collegially at UNC Pembroke next season. But he was also almost as valuable to the Rams at home plate, and with that two-way success, he earned Robeson County Player of the Year honors.

“He caught, he played first, he pitched,” Purnell Swett coach Jeff Lamb said. “He could do a lot of things for us, just a well-rounded baseball player and a well-rounded individual. It is the reward of hard work. He put in the work and he is reaping the benefits of the work he did.

Jacobs was 3-2 with a 1.77 ERA for the Rams, striking out 40 batters in 35 2/3 innings pitched; at home he hit .341 with 10 RBIs, seven runs and five more hits, including two home runs.

“I started a little hard on the mound, but midway through the season I did well,” said Jacobs. “The shots were pretty much the same, I started out tough, but overall I think I had some really good shots and throws. At the start of the year, I was trying to do too much, I was trying to do more than I could do. In the middle of the season, I just had to calm down, stay in me – that’s what Coach Lamb often said – and then I played home plate as well. “

In the long inning, Jacobs has allowed two earned runs and 10 hits in 17 innings in his last three starts, with 33 strikeouts; the last eight games of the season, he’s reached 9 for 24 with five RBIs.

“I enjoyed (the big game situations),” said Jacobs. “I had big hits with the stick. I probably had the biggest fight of my life, which was the last of the third round, but other than that I did well in those situations.

“We really saw in the playoffs where, with two catches, he made a few adjustments, whereas a year ago, two years ago, we didn’t see him make those kinds of adjustments,” Lamb said. “He’s basically maturing as a hitter and as a baseball player.”

As Jacobs continues at UNCP, Lamb feels he has great potential with the Braves.

“I really don’t think we know yet (how good he is),” Lamb said. “As a junior we just briefly got to see what he could do, and then this year I think we got a little taste of it. But I think as he goes to college and gets stronger, the sky is the limit for him.

Pitcher of the Year

While Jacobs used the strikeout to his advantage, another pitcher succeeded by throwing on contact and letting his defense create strikeouts. This helped Lumberton’s Garret Smith become Robeson County’s pitcher of the year.

“It makes me feel good, makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something,” Smith said. “I feel like I did well this year. “

Smith was 4-2 with a 2.05 ERA in 33 innings pitched.

“I really don’t care about strikeouts; I’m just trying to get the job done and let my defense work, ”Smith said. “I knew I could trust my defense this year; they were pretty solid.

“If you go back and look at the games he lost, those are the games we played poorly defensively,” said Lumberton coach Jeff McLamb. “I thought he pitched well enough against Pinecrest for us to be in the game, but we just didn’t play behind him. He’s not a big batting pitcher, he’s relying on his defense. The bottom line is, he just got up there, competed and pounded the strike zone.

Getting out by contact is the result of a lot of hitting, something Smith did well.

“He pounded the strike zone, he located his fastball and his curveball, and worked a bit on a change, but the main thing is he just threw some strikes, and went over there and competed, ”McLamb said.

Smith will look to continue to improve in his last two seasons with the Pirates.

Coach of the Year

Leading Purnell Swett to his first third-round playoff appearance in program history, Jeff Lamb is Robeson County’s Coach of the Year.

Lamb defers any credit for his team’s historic season to players and coaching staff.

“It’s basically the whole program, the work of the players, the work of the coaches, and we’ve had some success,” said Lamb. “It’s one of those (things), the coach gets praise but at the end of the day it’s back on the players, it’s back on the assistant coaches, it’s the guys who put the work. “

The fourth-year coaching staff includes assistant coaches Willie Nastasi, Tim Carter, Tommy Lowry and Bryan Hunt and support staff Tim Chavis and Ryan Chavis.

“It’s nothing I did that was different,” Lamb said. “It’s just about getting the right people in the right place, and you let your coaches coach and you let your players play, and at the end of the day you’re hoping to be successful. “

“He knows what’s best for us, he knows what changes we need to make and he sees it before us,” Jacobs said of his coach. “And he knows what we’re trying to do, even though we don’t know we’re trying to do it.”

The senior Rams team hit these new heights after losing almost all of their junior season when it was called off due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Back on the field, the Rams improved gradually throughout the season and played their best baseball in the playoffs, finishing 11-6.

“These guys, they had a goal, and a lot of people are focused on the conference championships, but my philosophy is to pursue the state championships and peak at the right time,” Lamb said. “We were hitting the ball the best way we hit it all year, playing defensively; all around we were playing our best baseball of the year, and as a coach that’s all you can ask for. You want your kids to improve every time they step onto the court.

All County Team

Ethan Wilkins, Sr., C / 1B, Purnell Swett – 0.333 average, 10 runs, 12 RBIs, seven more hits, three homers

Cameron Field, Sr., OF, Purnell Swett – 0.281 average, 15 points, nine RBIs, 25 bases stolen (state managed)

Braeden Oxendine, Sr., DH, Purnell Swett – 0.367 average, nine races, eight RBIs

Kylan Ransom, Jr., OF, Purnell Swett – 0.356 average, 19 points, eight RBIs, eight more hits, three homers

Chris Baker, Sr., INF, Purnell Swett – avg .348, seven runs, even RBIs, eight more hits

Keithyn Hunt, So., INF / P, Purnell Swett – 0.320 average, 11 RBIs, five more hits; 4-2, 45 strikeouts

Hunter Beasley, Sr., INF, Lumberton – 0.415 average, 12 bases stolen

Hayden Hunt, Sr., OF, Lumberton – average 0.298, base percentage 0.405

Quentin Hunt, Sr., 3B / OF, Fairmont – average 0.429, percentage on base 0.553, seven bases stolen

Malachi Gales, So., INF, Fairmont – average 0.433, base percentage 0.574, five doubles, eight RBI

Noah Parker, So., 2B / P, Fairmont – 0.303 average, eight RBI; 2-3, 1.77 ERA

Isaac Garner, Sr., SS / OF, St. Pauls – 0.461 average, 21 points, 11 RBIs, 12 steals, one home run

Josh Henderson, Jr., SS / OF, St. Pauls – 0.375 average, 11 points, 11 RBIs, eight goals stolen

Antonio Candelaria Rentas, Jr., UTIL, St. Pauls – 0.406 average, 17 points, eight RBIs, nine stolen bases

Will Brooks, So., C / 3B, St. Pauls – 0.375 average, nine points, 20 RBIs, five stolen goals, one home run

Stevie Smith, Jr., P, St. Pauls – 3-1, 2.40 ERA, 39 strikeouts

Terrance Barefield, INF, Red Springs – average 0.480, 12 runs

Dorian Bryant, C / INF, Red Springs – average of 0.345

Honorable mentions

Mason Locklear of Purnell Swett, Cam Hodge of Fairmont and Cameron Revels of St. Paul and TJ Parker are Honorable Mention selections.

About Marie A. Gingrich

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