06/15/05 — Wayne County wins wild game in Wilson

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Wayne County wins wild game in Wilson

By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on June 15, 2005 1:47 PM

WILSON -- In its 67-year existence, Wilson's Fleming Stadium has hosted thousands of games in various levels of baseball.

It's hard to imagine the historic field ever being home to a contest quite like the four hour, fifteen minute marathon staged between Wayne County and Wilson on a humid, Tuesday night.

Trailing 15-9 in the top of the ninth, Post 11 sent 13 batters to the plate against three different Post 13 pitchers as they rallied in dramatic fashion for 10 runs to claim a 19-15 win in Area One East play.

"They didn't quit. You've got to give them that," Wayne County coach Brad Reaves said. "I challenged them in the sixth inning and said, 'this is where you see if you've got any heart.' Obviously, we've got some. This just goes to show that it's never too late."

Wayne County improved to 10-2 overall and 6-1 against division foes as it returns to action on Sunday at 7:30 p.m. against Ahoskie at Mount Olive College. Wilson (7-5 overall) fell to 5-5 against leage foes.

Jesse Lancaster and Jes Snyder, the two players with the most American Legion experience on the roster, put the finishing touches on the last-inning rally that saw Post 11's bench consistently pick up enthusiasm.

Lancaster drove in the winning runs with a two-out triple to right-center field against Wilson's Lee Hawkins -- scoring David Smeltzer and Garrett Sutton to give Post 11 their first lead, nearly four hours into the game.

Snyder followed Lancaster's three-bagger with a mammoth home run to the deepest part of the park in center, his third blast of the season.

"It was crazy ... kinda like a football score. It showed a lot of character for us to come back," Lancaster said. "It feels a lot better coming home with a win than it would have with a loss."

The three and four hitters, Lancaster and Snyder, were far from alone in the outburst.

Jackson Massey, who went 4-for-6 and scored three runs, started the rally with a double against Wilson's Alan Corbett as Lancaster and Snyder followed with back-to-back singles in their first at bats of the inning. Hawkins struck out Austin Hood for the first out, before Airlon Vinson delivered a run-scoring single.

Post 13's pitchers struggled with their control as their catcher also had a handful of past balls through the game. Those problems continued in the ninth as three of the 10 runs scored on either a wild pitch or passed ball.

On the game, Wilson tossed a total of 214 pitches (119 strikes, 95 balls) with eight combined wild pitches and passed balls and seven walks. Wayne County's 199 pitch-total ( 79 balls, 100 strikes) brought the game's pitch count to 413 pitches.

"We hit some balls hard in the last few innings," Reaves said. "They struggled with control and we got some passed balls, but our kids didn't quit."

Also in the ninth, Blake Thompson was hit on the helmet by Hawkins, before back-to-back walks to Brady Wiggins and Smeltzer -- loading the bases for Garrett Sutton. Sutton bounced a single through the right side to score Thompson to make it 15-14, while Wiggins eventually raced home on a wild pitch to tie the game at 15-15.

Hawkins got Massey swinging for the second out, setting up the bases-loaded situation with two outs for Lancaster as he and Snyder provided the final blows of the wild contest.

"I knew with Snyder on deck, I would get a pitch to hit," Lancaster said. "I knew they wouldn't want to pitch to him."

One night removed from belting out 22 hits against Pitt County 160, Post 11 finished with 20 hits in Tuesday's comeback win. Massey and Lancaster provided four hits each. Snyder had three hits and drove in four as Matthew Holloman and Sutton added two hits apiece.

In his first appearance of the season, Airlon Vinson came on to pick up the win. The left-hander tossed a scoreless eighth and ninth, giving up only one hit but walking three. He issued two walks with one out in the ninth, bringing the tying run on deck. But, Vinson (1-0) got Kendall Smith to bounce into a 4-6-3 double play from Wiggins-to-Snyder-to-Thompson.

"We knew that Airlon could throw strikes, but we haven't been in a position to use him yet," Reaves said. "He stepped it up tonight when he had to."

After the game was delayed one hour due to late-arriving umpires, Wilson jumped out to a 9-0 lead in the first three innings against Wayne County starter T.J. Hinson and reliever Brandon Price. Post 13's first 19 batters went a combined 13-for-19 with two sacrifices. David Powell had three hits in the first three innings and capped the nine-run start with a three-run home run over the left-field fence against Hinson.

Post 13 finished with 20 hits as well with Powell providing five hits and three RBI, while David Bunn added four hits and drove in three. Thomas Edmondson, Matt Robbins, Tanner Eason and Corbett, who played four positions, all had multi-hit games.

Wilson's offensive prowess mixed with suspect pitch selection and location by Wayne County put Post 11 in catch-up mode the rest of the way.

Wayne County trimmed the lead to 9-4 after the top of the fifth with Snyder providing a rare, two-run sacrifice fly to deep center -- scoring Massey and Lancaster.

Post 13 answered with a run in the fifth against Price, then two more in the sixth against Holloman to boost their lead back to 12-5. Wayne County got two in the top of the sixth when Massey and Lancaster both scored on wild pitches. Post 11 cut it to 12-8 in the top of the seventh with Garrett Davis, Smeltzer and Massey providing key hits.

Wilson tacked on three unearned runs in the bottom of the seventh against Davis as a dropped fly ball in right field allowed two to score to give Post 13 a seemingly safe,15-8 margin.

"We just couldn't put the zeroes up when we needed to. We couldn't get a head of hitters. Our pitch selection was terrible, and we didn't hit a spot all night," Reaves said. "They hit some hard choppers that got over our head, then they squared a few balls up.

"When we were down, I still felt like we could come back. But, you keep pecking away, then you give up a couple of runs."

In a game where both teams combined for 11 errors, Wayne County posted an unearned run in the eighth against Jake Skinner. Wilson committed seven errors on the night, while Post 11 had four miscues.

"It wasn't a very pretty game, but we'll take a win," Lancaster said.

Reaves was a member of the 1984 Wayne County team that erased a 13-0 deficit at home against Wilson County for a comeback win.

"We came back from 13 down against Wilson. I told them about that, and I thought maybe that would stick with them," Reaves said. "But, I'm not going to take credit for that."

Notes: Fourteen total pitchers were used, six by Wayne County and eight by Wilson ... the two teams combined for 39 runs on 40 hits with 11 errors.