Wayne County eliminates New Bern; faces Pitt Post 39 next
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on July 15, 2004 1:56 PM
MOUNT OLIVE -- An inauspicious beginning nearly forced Brad Reaves to eat part of his baseball uniform Wednesday evening.
New Bern Post 24 right-hander Chris Holder threw 11 consecutive balls and put the first three runners he faced on base. But Wayne County Post 11 failed to capitalize as two batters got punched out looking at called third strikes. Holder eventually escaped what could have been a disastrous inning.
"I'm just before eating my hat at that point," Reaves said.
But the rocky start led to the usual ending -- a win -- on the Scarborough Field diamond at Mount Olive College. Wayne County triumphed 10-4 in the deciding game of the Area I East South Division first-round series.
Post 11 eliminated New Bern from the postseason for the second straight year at home and remained unbeaten (17-0) at home this season. Wayne County claimed an opening-round playoff series for the 15th consecutive year dating back to 1989.
"We didn't really discuss that particular incident, but we discussed this playoff format that we've got a little bit earlier -- (Post 24 coach) Gary (Smith), myself and a few more people," Reaves said. "I'd like to see us change this a little bit. New Bern has got a very good ball team and I wouldn't be scared to throw them, us, Snow Hill and Pitt in a hat.
"It doesn't matter who you pull out because everybody has got a chance of beating one another."
Wayne County beat New Bern for the ninth time in 12 playoff meetings since 1993.
"It's really hard to understand why we have to face each other in the first round," Reaves said. "It's a shame those guys have got to go home after one round."
Seven of nine Wayne County starters collected at least one hit in the regulation, nine-inning contest.
However, it was the bottom part of the lineup -- Josh Pate, Matthew Holloman, Mike Oglesby and Garrett Sutton -- that chased Holder off the mound. That quartet accounted for five of Post 11's first six runs, and three hits in the second and third innings combined.
Pate concluded the evening 2-for-4. Holloman, who has been battling possible tendinitis, contributed two hits and two RBI in four plate appearances. Oglesby scored twice, while Sutton added one hit and tallied a run.
"He (Holloman) was hungry," Reaves said. "He's still a little tender. The last couple of days in batting practice, he squared some balls up pretty good and is back to that approach he had during the middle of the year when he hit for us so good in high school.
"He's spraying the ball around pretty good. I thought his third at-bat, the sacrifice fly, was better at-bat than the first two."
Holloman's sacrifice fly occurred in the fourth and scored Airlon Vinson, who led off with a sharply-hit single to right field.
The top part of Post 11's lineup came alive in the second half of the game. Erik Lovett snapped a 1-for-17 slump with an RBI single in the fifth and ripped a solo home run -- his ninth of the season -- in the seventh.
"Lovett came back to see us tonight," a grinning Reaves said.
Lovett and Jes Snyder combined for four hits and four RBI in six at-bats.
While Wayne County achieved its goal of getting into the Post 24 bullpen, its own pitching staff turned its best playoff performance.
Right-hander Philip Pennington threw five solid innings and yielded three runs (one earned) on four hits. A rising sophomore at Mount Olive College, Pennington notched two strikeouts and improved to 2-0 on the mound.
"Philip hasn't gotten as many innings as we intended him to, but he stayed around the plate," Reaves said. "His curveball was very effective. We talked with our catchers and among our coaching staff that they're not a very good curveball-hitting team.
"Philip's curveball was very sharp, broke late, had some bite on it and he threw it for strikes. That was the big thing."
Ashton Langston threw two shutout innings in relief and redeemed himself from a disastrous showing one night earlier at New Bern. Jesse Lancaster provided two innings of two-hit, three-strikeout relief.
Wayne County (22-4) continues divisional play at home Friday against Pitt County Post 39. Game time is 7 p.m.
2004 Area I East
South Division Playoffs
First round -- Best of 3
(at Scarborough Field)
New Bern 101 100 001 -- 4 7 3
Wayne Co. 024 120 10x -- 10 11 3
Leading hitters -- Wayne County -- Jes Snyder 2-3, 2B, 2 RBI; Erik Lovett 2-3, HR, 2 RBI; Todd MacCoy 1-4; Airlon Vinson 1-5; Josh Pate 2-4; Matthew Holloman 2-4, 2 RBI; Garrett Sutton 1-4. New Bern -- Wilson McKnight 1-1, 2B; Chris Beck 1-5, RBI; Ben Fuller 1-3, 2B; Jimmy Lee 1-2, RBI.
DP -- New Bern 1. LOB -- Wayne County 10, New Bern 10. SB -- Sutton, Seymore 2, Beck 2, Lee. CS -- Br. Fuller. SF -- Barwick, Lee, Lancaster, Holloman.
IP H R ER BB SO
New Bern Post 24
Holder (L) 22Ú3 4 6 4 5 3
Young 51Ú3 7 4 4 0 2
Wayne County Post 11
Pennington (W, 2-0) 5 4 3 1 2 2
Langston 2 1 0 0 0 1
Lancaster 2 2 1 0 0 3
WP -- Holder 2. PB -- Be. Fuller. HBP -- Lee (by Langston), Watson (by Langston); Snyder 2 (by Holder), MacCoy (by Holder); Be. Fuller (by Lancaster).
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