• 73°

Legion Tournament: Hope Mills surges past Caldwell in opening game

SALISBURY – Hope Mills shook off the effects of a slow start and rallied past Caldwell County Friday morning to kick off the state American Legion baseball tournament with a 6-2 win at Newman Park.

Hope Mills, the Area II champion, fell behind 2-0 right off the bat and was unable to get untracked until an explosive sixth inning when it finally solved Caldwell starter Taylor Purus with six runs on four hits and a pair of timely walks.

Winning pitcher Justin Huggins overcame his own early demons to earn a complete game victory including eight strikeouts. After a 22-pitch first inning featuring three hits, a walk and two sacrifice bunts, Huggins settled in to blank Post 29 the rest of the way on five singles.

“That is how it has been for Huggins all year, ” Hope Mills coach Mark Kahlenberg said. “But our defense was not helping him a whole lot early. But after the first couple of innings we shook off the nerves and cobwebs  and did a good job after that.”

The turning point came in the top of the second when Caldwell (27-12) loaded the bases on a pair of dropped fly balls in left and a walk. But Huggins, a right hander who pitches at Wake Tech in the school season, wriggled out of the jam with a pair of ground ball outs to keep the deficit at 2-0.

Hope Mills (22-5) had just 3 hits off Purus heading into the sixth when Garret Johnson singled and Logan Hales reached safely on a bunt hit. Purus then issued consecutive walks to make it 2-1 and gave way to reliever Tre Harper with the bases loaded. A wild pitch tied the score. Then Austin Warren put Hope Mills ahead with a single to left. One out later, Trey Jacobs boomed a double to the gap in left-center to plate two more and make it 5-2.

A ground out RBI by Trey Davis closed out the big scoring burst for the 6-2 lead.

Caldwell managed just one hit over the final three innings off Huggins to go down quietly. Hales led the winners with a perfect 4-for-4 game while Jacobs had three hits and his two RBIs. Harper and Mason Biddix led Caldwell with two hits each.

Hope Mills, which appeared in last year’s state Legion tourney but exited quickly, now advances in the winners bracket to face High Point Post 87 at 4:30 pm Saturday.  Caldwell County will take on the Garner Nationals in an elimination game Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m.


Caldwell County  200 000 000 – 2 8 1

Hope Mills            000 006 00x – 6 12 3

WP – Justin Huggins

LP – Taylor Purus



Stay-at-home orders cut into commercial fishermen’s catch last year


Two bodies found after helicopter goes down off NC coast


Unlikely partners: Pelosi, Cheney team up for Jan. 6 probe


Uber driver charged with sexually assaulting customer near Knightdale


Trump inaugural committee chair to be released on $250 million bail


A year after removal, ‘Fame’ Confederate monument relocated to new home


Photo gallery: ‘Fame’ relocation complete


‘Fame’ Confederate monument being moved to North Lee Street cemetery today


Troyer’s Country Market closing because of staff shortages, deal to sell building


Builders interested in Spencer-owned residential properties


Local wildlife biologist wins state award for private land conservation efforts


Quotes of the week


Inaugural Paint the Pavement project postponed due to paint shortages


Major NC hospitals to order staff to get vaccine

High School

High school sports oversight revamp clears another state panel


McCrory wants three GOP primary debates in Senate race


College coaches working to learn impact of endorsement deals on recruiting


City council tables issue of allowing golf carts on public roads


Lenoir-Rhyne women’s basketball players say activism got them kicked off team


Blotter: Man robs East Innes Circle K at gunpoint


District Attorney clears deputies in shooting investigation from February chase


Salisbury Police detective receives state Gang Investigators Association Award


Change in state COVID-19 guidance gives school district freedom on masking


Community shows outpouring of support for young Rowan County softball player