Wayne County pounds Pitt County, takes series 2-1
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on July 19, 2004 1:55 PM
MOUNT OLIVE -- Turnabout is fair play.
Humbled by an embarrassing 10-run defeat on its home diamond Friday evening, Wayne County Post 11 nearly returned the favor Sunday at Scarborough Field.
Philip Pennington scattered seven hits in a five-inning stint and Ashton Langston provided four superb shutout innings in a 9-1 pounding of Pitt County Post 39. Wayne County bounced back from Friday's catastrophe and claimed the Area I East South Division series 2-1.
Post 11 entertains Wilson Post 13 in game one Tuesday in the best-of-five Area I East championship series.
"What a great job of the pitching we had last night and tonight," Post 11 coach Brad Reaves said.
Pennington lived on the edge in every inning. The right-hander allowed 10 runners to reach base, but Pitt County Post 39 struggled to manufacture runs. The visitors left seven runners stranded at either second or third base.
Post 11 shortstop Jes Snyder single handedly turned an inning-ending double play in the second.
Post 39 committed a serious base-running mistake to take it out of the fifth inning. Pennington (3-0) lost his shutout bid on Brian Ford's run-scoring sacrifice fly to deep right field where Erik Lovett made a spectacular diving catch in foul territory.
"That was huge because he was horizontal," Reaves said. "It looked like it was almost foul, too. That's two runs if he don't make that play."
Langston, who made his third relief appearance in the last five games, threw a perfect sixth. The lanky right-hander escaped minor trouble in the seventh. He retired four of the final five batters and helped Wayne County advance to the Area I East finals for the 10th time in the last 11 years.
Pennington and Langston surrendered nine hits combined and limited Pitt County to a season-low one run.
"Philip does what he is supposed to do and throws strikes," Reaves said. "When they start hitting a little bit, he starts pitching a little bit. That's two huge games Philip has pitched for us now (in the playoffs).
"(Series) deciding games both times. Ashton sure threw the ball well tonight to come in and not give up any runs."
Meanwhile, Wayne County (23-5) hammered Post 39 starter Alex B. White in the first two innings. Although Post 11 built just a 3-0 lead, it forced the right-hander to throw numerous pitches.
Four Wayne County batters collected two-strike hits -- all singles. They managed seven hits and put the ball in play 11 out of 14 chances.
"I told the boys before the ball game that I knew their arms were shallow with (Garrett) Bullock being hurt," Reaves said. "We made that boy pitch early. He threw a ton of pitches (60) in the first two innings. I told them we had to see a lot of pitches and get deep in the counts on him.
"We had to get into their bullpen."
Leading 5-0, Wayne County finally chased White in the sixth. Snyder and Lovett belted back-to-back singles, forcing Post 39 assistant coach Will Brinson to bring Steven Cherry into the game.
Cherry lasted one-third of an inning, including giving up a bases-clearing triple to Josh Pate. Pate finished with three hits and drove in two runs in four plate appearances.
Wayne County led 9-1 at that point.
Eight starters combined for a playoff-high 17 hits. Designated hitter Austin Hood complemented Pate with three hits in four at-bats. Snyder, Lovett, Todd MacCoy, Airlon Vinson and Jesse Lancaster each provided two hits.
"We swung it a little bit tonight," Reaves said. "We did the little things ... put the ball in play with runners on second and third that we hadn't been doing. We got some balls into the outfield and had three sacrifice flies.
"That was big."
Lovett and MacCoy combined for three RBI on three sacrifice fly balls -- two to right field and one to center field.
Post 11 handed Pitt County its fourth loss this season and eighth overall in the last 10 meetings. Wayne County leads the all-time series 58-49, including a 15-7 advantage against Post 39 in the playoffs since 1993.
"Maybe that was the wake-up call we needed," said Reaves, referring to Friday's series-opening loss. "I'm going to tell you what. These kids showed a ton of heart after coming back after taking a beating like we took. We stayed ahead of them guys all night last (Saturday) night and tonight, too."
Post 11 and Wilson split their regular-season series with each team winning on its home field. The two teams are meeting in the Area I East finals for the first time since 2000 when Wayne County prevailed both postseason meetings.
Game time is 7 p.m. Tuesday at Scarborough Field.
2004 Area I East
Semifinals -- Best-of-3
(at Scarborough Field)
Pitt County 39 000 010 000 -- 1 9 2
Wayne County 120 024 00x -- 9 17 0
Leading hitters -- Wayne County -- Jesse Lancaster 2-5; Jes Snyder 2-4; Erik Lovett 2-3, 2B, 2 RBI; Todd MacCoy 2-4, RBI; Airlon Vinson 2-4; Josh Pate 3-4, 3B, 2 RBI; Matthew Holloman 1-5, RBI; Austin Hood 3-4, 3B. Pitt County -- Brandon Manning 2-5; Ryan Graepel 2-5, 2B; Brandon Scott 2-4; Aubrey Edens 1-3, 2B.
DP -- Wayne County 1, Pitt County 1. LOB -- Wayne County 11, Pitt County 10. SF -- Lovett 2, MacCoy, Ford. SB -- Lancaster, Lovett, Hood, Scott 2.
IP H R ER BB SO
Pitt County Post 39
White (L) 5 13 7 6 1 2
Cherry 1/3 1 2 1 1 0
Scott 2 2/3 3 0 0 0 1
Wayne County Post 11
Pennington (W, 3-0) 5 7 1 1 2 1
Langston 4 2 0 0 1 1
WP -- White 2. PB -- Wilson 2.
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