06/13/05 — Post 11 blanks Jacksonville again

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Post 11 blanks Jacksonville again

By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on June 13, 2005 2:02 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Like the first game against Jacksonville on Friday, Wayne County's pitching and defense controlled Post 265 in a 4-0 shutout on the final day of the second annual Wayne County Invitational.

In Sunday's game, Eastern Wayne graduate Jesse Lancaster tossed a two-hitter with five strikeouts against one walk and three hit batsmen in five innings of work. Only one Jacksonville base runner reached third base against Lancaster (1-0) and reliever Brandon Price -- a duo of right-handers -- during the seven-inning contest.

"I don't know if Jesse had his best stuff, but I told him sometimes you have to 'pitch,' not just 'throw,'" Wayne County coach Brad Reaves said. "A lot of times in high school, he overpowered people and you become a good pitcher when you start 'pitching' when you don't have your good stuff."

Price came on for two innings of no-hit, scoreless relief, and struck out three.

Wayne County's team earned run average is now 1.87 as opponents are hitting a miniscule, .206 against Post 11 hurlers.

Defensively, Post 11, who finished 2-1 at the Invitational, bounced back off of their four-error game with Snow Hill on Saturday with just one miscue against Post 265. Their work with the leather was consistent throughout and dazzling on several occasions.

With one out in the top of the second, shortstop Jes Snyder dove deep in the hole and near the outfield grass to stop a ground ball off the bat of Matt Crone. From his knees, he quickly fired a perfect, one-hopper to first to Airlon Vinson.

Jacksonville, the home team, saw another hit taken away in the bottom of the seventh when pinch-hitter Nick Mirra's grounder up the middle was snagged by the diving second baseman Brady Wiggins as Vinson picked another throw out of the dirt for the final out of the game.

Third baseman Matthew Holloman added a pair of solid plays -- charging in on a bunt and one soft ground ball, then throwing strikes to first. "We've said all along that we have some kids who can play defense," Reaves said. "The mistakes last night were more mental errors, and then they ended up being physical because we laid back on the baseball.

"But, we knew we could play the gloves."

Breaking an 11-inning slump without a run, Wayne County (8-2) posted two runs in the fifth, then two more in sixth -- proving to be plenty of support for Lancaster and Price.

Facing Jacksonville starter Zach Cooper, David Smeltzer started the fifth with a single to right as Bennett Jeffreys entered the game to run. Brady Wiggins executed a sacrifice bunt, then Garrett Sutton moved Jeffreys to third with a fly ball to right.

Jackson Massey scored Jeffreys, providing the only extra base hit of the afternoon by lining Cooper's first offering under the glove of the diving left fielder and sprinting for a triple. Massey came around to score one batter later when Austin Hood reached on an error by the pitcher.

Post 265 reliever Corey Landis walked the first batter he faced, Vinson, before Holloman legged out a bunt single. The two Wayne County base runners scored on back-to-back, RBI singles by Joey Moye, on a hit-and-run, then Jeffreys, both in their first and only at-bats of the game

"We executed today. We got a perfect sacrifice bunt, a push bunt and we got a great hit-and-run. When you do things like that, you can win," Reaves said. "We're still not a good offensive team. We've got to hope our pitchers hold them within one or two, our defense holds up and we manufacture runs like we did tonight."

Wayne County squandered a scoring chance in the fourth as Cooper got out of a second-and-third situation with no outs after hits by Hood and Snyder and a one-base throwing error by the left fielder.

Reaves is hoping to continue holding the Invitational every Summer.

"You get to do some things you don't do during the regular season and see some different lineups, arms and players at the plate," he said. "Next year we hope to have eight teams, instead of people backing out on us at the last minute."

Post 11 returns to action today at Pitt County Post 160 in Winterville, before traveling to Wilson on Tuesday. Wayne County, who hosts Ahoskie Sunday, will take Wednesday-through-Saturday off with Hood, Lancaster, Grant Sasser and Garrett Davis all participating in the State Games.

Tournament Notes: Wayne County is 5-1 in its home invitational over the last two years. Post 11 starters gave up just eight hits, four walks and two runs in 21 innings in two games with Jacksonville and one with Snow Hill ... Hood and Snyder, both hitting over .400, got hits in all three Invitational games for Post 11.