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The Wilmington Post 10 baseball team took another step closer to a national championship Friday with a 5-0 win over Branford, Conn., in the nightcap of the American Legion World Series.
After three competitive games to start the series, Joe O’Donnell allowed just three hits in a complete-game shutout. Chance Shepard was a perfect 3-for-3 at the plate, Collin Thacker drove in two runs on a pair of sacrifice flies, and Steven Linkous added an RBI double to secure the victory.
The adrenaline was at an all-time high for O’Donnell in the first, but the right-handed fire baller was able to stay composed and battled out of trouble with two Branford runners aboard to start the ball game. Shepard picked up his first hit in the bottom of the frame but was left on base, and O’Donnell stranded another Branford runner in the top of the second.
Post 10 took advantage of a Connecticut miscue in the third after Linkous stole second. With Chance Shepard at the dish, the N.C. State sophomore hit a two-strike foul ball that was misplayed by the catcher. After ruling the play an E-2, Shepard smacked an RBI double to make it 1-0.
With one out in the fifth, O’Donnell helped his own cause by starting a 1-6-3 double play on a ground ball hit back to the mound. Linkous used his speed in the bottom of the inning to steal second and third after he was issued a free pass on four pitches. Thacker wasted no time bringing in his teammate and took the first pitch of his at-bat to left field to drive in the runner from third.
Two runs were more than enough for O’Donnell, who went on to sit down the next 12 hitters in order to pick up the shutout.
Wilmington will face Gonzales, La., in Saturday’s final game on day two of the World Series. First pitch is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. at Keeter Stadium.
Follow Post 10 and their quest for a World Series title at ESPN3.com or www.legion.org/baseball.
Box score R H E
Branford 000 000 000 0 3 3
Wilmington 001 010 300 5 7 1
Leading hitters- Wilmington: Chance Shepard 3-3, Collin Thacker 1-2
LOB: Wilmington 9; Branford 4; 2B_ Chance Shepard; RBI_ Chance Shepard (2), Collin Thacker (2); R_ Steven Linkous (3), Chance Shepard, Shane Shepard, SB_ Linkous (3), Chance Shepard
Wilmington IP H R ER BB SO
Joe O’Donnell (WP) 9 3 0 0 1 4
Branford IP H R ER BB SO
Ben Criscuolo (LP) 6 7 5 2 5 7
Michael Schettino 2 0 0 0 1 2
Day one scores
Game 1: Burnsville, Minn. 4 Napoleon, Ohio 0
WP: Tyler Hanson LP: Weston Rivers Save: Aaron Rozek
Game 2: Gonzales, La. 8 Petaluma, Calif. 5
WP: Austin Tanner LP: Dominic Garihan Save: Devin Speligene
Game 3: Brooklawn, N.J. 5 Waipahu, Hawaii 4
WP: Mike Mercer LP: Josh Maglangit
Game 4: Wilmington, N.C. 5 Branford, Conn. 0
WP: Joe O’Donnell LP: Ben Criscuolo
Saturday, Aug. 17 (day two)
Game 5: Ohio vs. Hawaii at 9:30 a.m.
Game 6: California vs. Connecticut at 1 p.m.
Game 7: Minnesota vs. New Jersey at 5 p.m.
Game 8: Louisiana vs. Wilmington Post 10 at 8:30 p.m.