07/11/04 — Senior Legion -- Wayne County gets much-needed rest

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Senior Legion -- Wayne County gets much-needed rest

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on July 11, 2004 2:01 AM

MOUNT OLIVE -- A four-day break has come at the right time for Wayne County Post 11.

After playing three games in a four-day stretch, including a dramatic ninth-inning rally against New Bern Post 24, coach Brad Reaves' team gets a much-deserved rest.

"I think the kids are tired a little bit," Reaves said. "We've given them a couple of days off, and hopefully having Friday and Saturday to themselves will recharge their batteries a little bit.

"We need that for this final run."

The final run begins Monday.

Wayne County (20-3), the top seed, opens the Area I East South Division playoffs at home against fourth-seeded New Bern at 7 p.m. The best-of-three series continues Tuesday at New Bern with a third game, if necessary, slated for Wednesday at Mount Olive College.

Snow Hill (10-10), currently riding a three-game win streak, begins defense of its Area I East championship at second-seeded Pitt County Post 39. Pitt County (17-3) swept the regular-season series. Game time is 7 p.m. at an undetermined site.

Meanwhile, a shake-up occurred in the North.

Edenton would have qualified as either the No. 2 or 3 seed, but had to relinquish its playoff berth. Area I commissioner Barry Moore said Saturday morning that Edenton officials had not submitted their team's paperwork by the June 23 deadline.

The forfeiture slightly changed the playoff picture in that division.

Nash County (14-5) is the top seed and faces fourth-seeded Ahoskie, which tied Martin County at 3-7 in division play. Ahoskie (5-20) gained the playoff berth by virtue of run differential (plus 9) against Martin County after the teams split their regular-season series.

Nash County won a division title for the first time since 1986.

Wilson (12-12) climbed to third and drew a first-round series against second-seeded Beaufort.

A year ago, coaches agreed to a cross-bracket format which led to a championship series against rivals Wayne County and Snow Hill. This time, teams will remain in their division, which leads to intriguing first-round matchups that will eliminate good teams.

"You've got to beat them all," Reaves said. "It doesn't really matter. I think New Bern is not playing their best baseball right now, but it doesn't matter because I think they will now.

"They came over here last year and gave us all we wanted in the playoffs. If you've made it this far, you're pretty good."

Wayne County has claimed five Area I East titles since 1994 with the last coming in 2002. Snow Hill has won two of the last four East championships and four overall since 1990.

Pitt County seized three straight crowns from 1991-93 and emerged back-to-back champions in 1998 and '99.

"They've got a good team and are very confident," Reaves said. "Those were two pretty good ball games we had with them and Post 39 is nobody to sneeze at. Neither is New Bern.

"Pitt County does have some good arms over there -- three I know for sure, if not four, who can beat you any night with Hill, (Aubrey) Edens, (Alex) White and Bullock."

Reaves thinks Snow Hill might be the most-dangerous team in the South. Two weeks ago, Post 94 was fighting for a playoff spot. A 10-inning victory at New Bern and a regular-season sweep against Kinston propelled coach James "Rabbit" Fulghum's team into the postseason.

"They may be the hottest team going right now," Reaves said.

New Bern is just one of three teams to beat Wayne County since Post 11 moved to Mount Olive College three seasons ago. In fact, New Bern has handed Wayne County two of its six losses in 47 games.

Reaves isn't sure who will get the nod for game one. He plans to throw either Adam Williams or Grant Sasser, each a left-hander. Whoever doesn't start Monday will more than likely take the mound for game two Tuesday at Boykin Field on the New Bern High campus.

Williams is 4-0 and Sasser, a rising sophomore at Charles B. Aycock, is 3-1. Williams has made eight appearances, inicluding a two-inning stint against New Bern on Tuesday. Overall, Post 11 has nine pitchers who have recorded at least one victory this season.