HIGH POINT-THOMASVILLE, N.C. - The senior legion HiToms won their fifth championship, first since 2016, under 13-year head coach Rob Shore Wednesday night at Historic Finch Field.
Perseverance was the name of the game all season long. When COVID-19 put a chokehold on the world, including college entry-level sports, American Legion baseball followed suit to cancel its 2020 season as well as its World Series aspirations.
However, with the longing to compete, a newly formulated league called the NC3 arose as 11 legion squads across the Piedmont put their name in the hat, including powerhouse organizations like Randolph County and Rowan.
"Everybody that was involved in getting this NC3 going, thank you so much," head coach Rob Shore said. "Thanks on the behalf of our administration at the HiToms, and thank you on behalf of our kids and parents that we were willing to play baseball this summer."
Soon after, Phase 2 of the reopening process finally breathed life to possible summer baseball in the Triad starting June 20. Since then, the NC3 HiToms rolled through the available competition with an overall record of 20-4, tying a season-high of wins from a season ago despite a shortened schedule.
20-4 thus fostered a 17-3 record in conference action. In fact, the NC3 HiToms rallied off win streaks of seven and nine games apiece. The next closest squad in the conference race, no playoffs, was Rowan with six losses in NC3 play.
A total of 18 seniors christened Finch Field this season for Post 87, six on their way to a well-known D1 baseball program like Coastal Carolina. The HiToms protected their home turf with a 10-1 record despite home capacity crowds of 25 and scored double-digit runs in 10 contests.
Seven HiToms batted .300 or better up at the plate, and as a team, they accumulated a batting average of .297.
Chet Sikes (NCCU) led the way in batting average with a dominant .465. Sikes also led the squad in total hits (40), doubles (12) and in runs scored (29).
In RBIs, CJ Johnson (GTCC) was all alone atop the team in the category with 31. Both Johnson and Sikes accounted for double-digit hit streaks this summer.
A three-headed offensive attack was supplemented by Alex Rodriguez (GTCC) who boasted a .360 average and an on-base percentage of .448.
On the mound, HPT possessed a shutdown team ERA of 1.929. Colby Roy (Roanoke) tossed an unblemished season with a perfect 6-0 record and one save, while Gavin Mortenson (Western Carolina) recorded the most strikeouts on the summer (40) behind a team season-high of 13 in a single outing.
Day in and day out, each member of the squad did their job to achieve one goal as one heartbeat, a 2020 championship. Some may call it a salvaged season, but a championship is a championship no matter how one frames it.
"We absolutely had a blast we these guys," Shore said. "I look forward to continuing to follow them and their careers. It's going to be a lot of fun to watch those guys come back and hopefully play for the big HiToms."
FINAL 2020 NC 3 SENIOR STANDINGS