07/07/05 — Post 11 now facing elimination

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Post 11 now facing elimination

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on July 7, 2005 1:46 PM

WILSON -- Just when Wayne County Post 11 seemed to grab momentum Wednesday evening against Wilson Post 13, one inning of defensive miscues turned the tide at historic Fleming Stadium.

A two-error inning led to five unearned runs as Post 13 prevailed 8-2 in game one of their best-of-three, opening-round series in the Area I East Division playoffs. Weather permitting, game two is today at Scarborough Field on the Mount Olive College campus.

Wilson (14-10) defeated Wayne County for the second time in four days and collected its first postseason victory against Post 11 since 1993.

Wayne County had won nine consecutive playoff games in the series. After squandering a run-scoring opportunity in the fifth, Brady Wiggins led off the Post 11 sixth with a base hit -- his second of the game. Wiggins moved into scoring position on Jesse Lancaster's infield bunt single and scored when Post 13 left-hander Jake Skinner plunked Airlon Vinson with the bases loaded.

However, Wayne County (17-9) left the bases loaded as Skinner notched a strikeout and induced Austin Hood into an inning-ending long fly ball that Matt Robbins caught at the fence.

"We hit some balls hard tonight, too, that we didn't get some breaks on," Post 11 coach Brad Reaves said. "Hoody just does miss it and that's a grand slam. Matthew (Holloman) hits one off the pitcher (in the fourth) and that could have been big right there."

But the big hits never came for Post 11, which stranded nine runners on base including five in scoring position. Wayne County left the bases loaded in the sixth and ninth inning. Skinner yielded six hits in an eight-inning stint and held Post 11 to a .200 hitting percentage, well below its season average of .280. Wiggins finished the game 3-for-3. Hood, Jes Snyder and Jesse Lancaster each provided one hit for Wayne County, which fell to 6-5 in road games this season.

Wilson seized the momentum in the sixth.

Alan Corbett's infield bunt and David Powell's single to left started a six-run uprising which was aided by three Post 11 errors. Reaves pulled left-handed starter Grant Sasser after Powell's single.

"Grant gave me a good effort," Reaves said. "He got runners on and battled through it. The reason I went with somebody else is I went for a little more athleticism because I thought they were going to bunt right there.

"If we hadn't balked right there, I think they would have."

Garrett Davis relieved Sasser and drew a balk call on his first pitch attempt. He settled down and notched a strikeout, but surrendered a game-tying RBI groundout to Justin Batts. Had the umpire not called Davis for the balk, Post 11 might have turned its third double play of the game.

Davis walked the next batter and then back-to-back infield errors broke open the game. Wilson pushed across six runs (five unearned) on three hits and three walks.

"We just didn't make plays ... plain and simple," Reaves said. "We kicked it around. It was a total team loss. They got it done and we didn't."

The six-run surge rattled Post 11's young players, who refused to quit. Wayne County put five runners aboard in the final three innings combined, but couldn't get a timely hit to regain any momentum.

Corbett paced Post 13's offense with two hits and two RBI in four at-bats. Five other starters provided at least one hit each for Wilson, which is 3-9 against Post 11 in the playoffs since 1993.

Wayne County is 68-26 in the Area I East playoffs since 1993.

Post 11 now faces elimination for the third time in its last four division playoff series. Reaves' team rallied past New Bern and Pitt County 39 before sweeping Post 13 en route to the Area I East championship a year ago.

"We've been there before," a confident Reaves said. "I'm not scared of that. We're going to be OK."