Wayne County one win from division crown
By David Williams
Published in Sports on July 6, 2004 1:56 PM
SNOW HILL -- Wayne County's American Legion baseball team did what it usually does against Snow Hill -- wore their opponent out with steady defense, superb pitching and enough hitting to take control of a game.
Post 11 did all this, however, in a place that is usually a lot less kind to it than it was on Monday night.
Wayne County won its ninth straight, improved to 18-3 and put a choke hold on the Area One East South Division title with a 6-1 defeat of its closest Legion rival. At 7-1 in league play, Wayne County needs only one win in its last two South Division games to take the top spot and secure home field advantage for next week's playoffs.
The victory came in a place that has proven tough for Post 11 teams -- The James R. Fulghum Athletic Complex. It is the only Legion playing site on which Wayne County does not have a winning record.
Wayne County's Mike Oglesby won his first game of the year with five innings of strong pitching. He struck out seven -- four in a row at one point -- and showed a good fastball with good location, mixed in with a tight, biting curve. Oglesby has not gotten the work the other pitchers have after being called to catch when an injury sidelined Josh Pate. Post 11 coach Brad Reaves said Oglesby has been a "wonderful pickup at the end" of the player selection process for the club.
"The heat got him a little," Reaves said.
Snow Hill (7-10, 2-5) is in danger of missing the playoffs heading into the final week of the season. Post 94 has to win two of its last three games, including an important home-and-home series with Kinston that should decide the division's final playoff spot.
"We don't have to beat New Bern (tonight), but we need to beat Kinston," said Snow Hill coach James "Rabbit" Fulghum.
Post 11 took advantage of four Snow Hill errors and nicked up at Snow Hill starter Chip Wall through five innings. Wayne County held a 3-1 lead when Wall left the game in the sixth -- an important point in the game, according to Reaves.
"We need to get in everyone's bullpen," Reaves said. "Everyone knows what we have for pitching."
The Post 11 staff was strong again, as Adam Williams threw two scoreless innings before handing off to closer Philip Cunningham, who picked up his fourth save after two innings of two-hit relief.
Offensively, Wayne County was not perfect, stranding 12 runners and missing a few key opportunities to blow the game open. But Reaves is beginning to understand the nature of his club.
"Sometimes you think they're in coast mode," he said. "This group is a little different. It's a laid-back group. They turn it on when they have to. That's just their mode."
After Wayne County took advantage of an error to take a 1-0 lead in the second, Snow Hill answered in the third as Cody Fuquay singled his way on and scored on a hit by John Allen Conway. Wayne regained the lead for keeps in the fifth after capitalizing on two more Post 94 miscues, scoring Jes Snyder and Erik Lovett on a ground out by Airlon Vinson and a fielding error.
Todd MacCoy doubled to open the seventh, scoring on a sacrifice fly by Vinson. Post 11 pic up two in the ninth as Josh Pate lofted a sacrifice fly to score Vinson and Garrett Sutton drove in David Combs off Snow Hill pitcher Brian James.
Fulghum said Wall threw a solid game for them, noting that the defensive miscues continue to plague his team.
"When things aren't going your way, nothing does," he said. "We just are not getting the little breaks we need."
Wayne County travels to Kinston tonight, with rising sophomore Grant Sasser expected to take the Hill for Post 11. Snow Hill travels to New Bern tonight.
Wayne County 010 020 102 -- 6 9 1
Snow Hill 001 000 000 -- 1 7 4
Leading hitters -- Wayne County -- Todd MacCoy 2-4, 2B; Airlon Vinson 1-4, 2B, 2 RBI; David Combs 1-2, 2B, RBI; Josh Pate 1-3, RBI. Snow Hill -- John Allen Conway 1-4, RBI; Joe Wade 1-3, 2B; Jordy Davis 2-4.
IP H R ER BB SO
Oglesby (W, 1-1) 5 4 1 0 2 7
Williams 2 1 0 0 0 2
Cunningham 2 1 0 0 0 2
Wall (L) 5 2/3 3 3 0 4 7
Grady 1 1/3 1 1 0 1 0
James 2 0 2 1 3 1
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