By David Williams
Published in Sports on August 8, 2004 2:05 AM
SHELBY -- Once again, Wayne County got out of the gate with intensity - building a 3-1 lead on Shelby after three innings in Friday's second elimination game at the N.C. American Legion state tournament.
Much like its first two state tourney games, the same fire just simply wasn't there in the middle and late innings offensively.
Post 11's strong season came to a close after a 5-4 loss to host Post 82 as it scored just one run in innings four through nine. In the three tournament games, Wayne County managed just three runs in the last five innings of each game.
After rolling through the Area I East South Division with a 9-1 mark and winning three playoff series to qualify for the state tourney, Post 11 (28-9) dropped four of its last five games in the postseason.
"It wasn't our tournament. We went cold at the plate at the wrong time of the year," Wayne County coach Brad Reaves said. "I can't put my finger on anything besides that. Usually we get games going late."
Post 82 (25-14) moved on to face Caldwell County on Saturday at 4 p.m. The winner faced Kannapolis, who lost to Garner, at 7 p.m. Garner has Saturday off and will await the lone survivor of the losers' bracket in the championship game on Sunday.
Shelby's Tyler Trice (11-0) picked up his second win of the tournament by allowing just one unearned run on one hit in 32Ú3 innings. After back-to-back singles by Airlon Vinson and Phillip Cunningham, Shelby coach Mike Grayson lifted starter Daniel Folk. Trice inherited a first-and-second situation with one out in the sixth and the game tied at 3-3. The North Carolina signee induced a 1-6-3 double play on the first batter he faced to get out of the jam.
Wayne County's Erik Lovett singled to lead off the eighth and would later score on a passed ball to pull Post 11 to within one at 5-4. Lovett proved to be the only base runner Wayne County would manage against Trice, who finished with four strikeouts.
Post 11 struck out nine times on Friday after striking out eight times against Kannapolis on Thursday.
Wayne County scratched for one run in each of the first four innings to jump out to a 3-0 lead. Todd MacCoy plated Lovett from second in the first with a double. MacCoy added another double in the third and scored on a wild pitch for Post 11's third run.
Both MacCoy and Lovett capped their Legion careers with stout offensive performances in the tournament. MacCoy was 7-for-12 with three doubles and two RBI, while Lovett had six hits in 12 plate appearances with two home runs and three RBI.
"MacCoy and Lovett came back with a good tournament, we just didn't get all the right people hot at the right time," Reaves said.
Jesse Lancaster drove in Cunningham on a fielder's choice for Wayne County's second run. Shelby evened the score in the fourth when Luke Dobbins provided a bases-loaded, two-run single against Post 11 starter Brett Butts, who gave up four hits in a row after not allowing a hit in the first three innings.
After Dobbins' single, Reaves lifted Butts for Adam Williams, who tossed 12Ú3 innings of shutout relief.
Shelby got its fourth run in the seventh on a perfectly executed squeeze bunt by Josh Drewery, scoring Josh Izokovic from third. Izokovic singled and advanced to second on a one-base error to start the inning against Post 11 reliever Ashton Langston.
Post 82 tacked on what would prove to be a crucial insurance run on Dusty Quattlebaum's solo home run to lead off the eighth. The solo blast was the only earned run allowed by Langston (2-2), who gave up two hits in picking up the loss.
Williams and Langston are two of the reasons Reaves is already excited about the prospect of next season.
"We've got a good core of pitchers coming back. A lot of kids got a good taste of what to expect," he said. "I don't know many teams who have the kind of arms we have coming back.
"We've got a lot of young players who got their first experience of legion ball, so we are going to be okay. I wish the season started again next week."
Lovett, MacCoy, Garrett Sutton, Josh Pate, Butts, Cunningham, Philip Pennington and Mike Oglesby played in their final games for Post 11.
"I don't think anybody expected us to come this far," Reaves said. "I did, and I'm proud of every one of them."
Friday's scores - Winners' bracket Garner 2, Kannapolis 0. Losers' bracket - Caldwell 5, Greensboro 2.
2004 N.C. American Legion State Tournament
(at Hoyt S. Keeter Stadium, Shelby)
Shelby 001 200 110 -- 5 7 0
Wayne County 111 000 010 -- 4 7 2
Leading hitters -- Shelby -- Dusty Quattlebaum 2-4, HR, RBI; Luke Dobbins 1-3, 2 RBI. Wayne County -- Erik Lovett 2-4, 2 runs; Todd MacCoy 2-4, 2 2B, RBI. DP -- Shelby 1, Wayne County 1. LOB -- Shelby 7, Wayne County 4. SH -- Drewery, Smith, Oglesby. SB -- Ray, Lovett. CS -- Cunningham.
IP H R ER BB SO
Folk 51Ú3 6 3 3 2 5
Trice (W, 11-0) 32Ú3 1 1 0 0 4
Butts 31Ú3 5 3 3 2 2
Williams 12Ú3 0 0 0 1 0
Langston (L, 2-2) 3 2 2 0 1 0
Cunningham 1 0 0 0 1 0
WP - Folk, Trice, Williams. PB - McFarland, Pate. HBP - Ray (by Butts), Garver (by Langston).
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