07/05/05 — Wayne playing it cool, loose

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Wayne playing it cool, loose

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on July 5, 2005 1:47 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- "Play like boxer shorts -- cool and loose."

The new mantra created by Wayne County Post 11 assistant coach John Gourley undoubtedly had a positive effect Monday evening against Nash County Post 58. Post 11 looked calm and relaxed offensively and defensively, and hardly resembled a team mired in a five-game losing streak.

The Wayne County pitching staff turned in another solid performance and limited Nash County to seven hits in a 7-1, Area I East Division victory at Scarborough Field. Post 11 moved closer to clinching home-field advantage in the playoffs, which begin Wednesday.

The loss eliminated Nash County from the postseason.

"When we took batting practice today, we took a little different approach and that's when we came up with that slogan," said Wayne County coach Brad Reaves, whose team did not take infield practice before the game. "That's what they decided we were going to do, play like boxer shorts -- cool and loose."

The five-game skid was the longest in Post 11 history since 1995 when that team lost seven straight games, but reached the finals of the Area I East playoffs. Wayne County (16-8, 11-6 Area I East) swept the regular-season series with Post 58 and improved to 9-4 at home this season.

"The monkey is off our back -- for now," Reaves said.

But Post 11's seed in the playoffs remains in doubt. Reaves' club concludes the regular season today with a 7 p.m. game at Kinston.

Wayne County is one of five teams that did not complete its 20-game division schedule and could face a penalty.

Area I Commissioner Joe Tolbert and Roy Waters, the state commissioner, are expected to meet sometime today to discuss those teams' respective fates. Forfeits, particularly for the home teams, have been mentioned as a possibility along with seeding the teams based on winning percentage.

However, there is no set policy in writing to address the issue.

Reaves was not certain of his team's fate, but was glad to see it play with some enthusiasm and intensity against Post 58. Wayne County scratched for three runs in the first inning and maintained the momentum en route to its 55th win all-time in the series.

"We got some key hits early and big things early that certainly helped us," said Reaves.

Jes Snyder ripped a two-RBI double in the first. Matthew Holloman plated Airlon Vinson, who reached on a fielder's choice, with an RBI single to left. Austin Hood provided an RBI single in the second as Wayne County built a 4-0 lead against Post 58 right-hander Jason Webb, a rising sophomore at N.C. Wesleyan.

After two scoreless innings, Post 11 erupted for three runs in the fifth. Vinson uncorked a two-RBI single and eventually scored on Joey Moye's groundout to the pitcher.

"Matthew and Snyder had the hit-and-run early where Snyder went from first to third," Reaves said. "That added a little life to everybody. We added a couple after that and stayed pretty aggressive at the plate. When we got up seven, I slowed it down a little bit."

Second baseman Brady Wiggins came up with two superb plays to stop potential big innings for Post 58. Wiggins' diving grab of a ground ball led to a key first out in the fifth with runners on first and second. He snagged a line drive in the sixth that ended the inning with the bases loaded.

Nash County left five runners, including four in scoring position, stranded during that stretch.

"Brady was a big lift," said Reaves.

Left-hander Grant Sasser started and tossed two hitless innings. Garrett Davis yielded three hits in a three-inning stint and collected his second win of the season. Jackson Massey surrendered the lone run in the sixth and allowed three hits.

Holloman threw the ninth.

"Jackson worked out of a jam and kept us in it," said Reaves. "We made some good pitches tonight, too. We hit some spots, jammed some people up and got some ground balls when we needed them.

"We played decent defensively. Even though we threw a couple of balls away, they were aggressive errors and I can handle that."

Wayne County managed a 10-hit output for the second time in its last three outings. Snyder finished 3-for-3 with two doubles, giving him nine for the season and 14 extra-base hits overall. Hollman battled 2-for-4. Five other starters contributed at least one hit.

Vinson led the defense with 12 putouts and one assist.