04/09/06 — Local baseball talent fuels LCC

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Local baseball talent fuels LCC

By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on April 9, 2006 2:09 AM

KINSTON -- To come back from six runs down in the bottom of the ninth against a quality opponent, obviously it takes talented players and a few key breaks.

But that's not all.

Teammates have to pull for each other. There has to be a sense of belief in the dugout. Athletes have to be willing to put the team first and themselves second.

Nationally-ranked Lenoir Community College (26-4), a Division II JUCO team loaded with talent from Wayne County and the surrounding area, put all of those characteristics on display during Wednesday's improbable 12-11 victory over Louisburg.

Just as they have all season, the local products had plenty to do with the outcome.

Spring Creek alumnus Jes Snyder slugged a pair of two-run homers, including one in the bottom of the ninth that made the score 11-7. Snyder, who is hitting a sweltering .468 on the season, led off the 10th with a single, then eventually scored the game-winning run on a double by Michael Causey to cap the dramatic comeback win.

"Nobody gives up on this team. We've got a bunch of boys from around the area, and we pulled together and came through with it," said Snyder, who has signed to play with UNC-Wilmington next season.

Eastern Wayne graduate Airlon Vinson was also key in the late rally with a double and run scored in the ninth and a sacrfice bunt in the 10th to get Snyder into scoring position.

Another former Gator, Michael Sigmon, one of the leading Division II closers, pitched out of an inherited jam in the top of the 10th and picked up the win.

"That's my roll and I love doing it. I love coming in to pitch in tight situations," Sigmon said. "We've got a lot of team chemistry. It's awesome."

All the while, staff ace Michael Oglesby (Eastern Wayne) and Logan Porter (Southern Wayne), who was hitting second and batting .404 before injuring his ankle, were visibly encouraging their teammates and dishing out high-fives.

By the end of the game, LCC's competitiveness and sense of team was on display just as much as its athletic ability.

"It's just fun pulling for your friends," Vinson said.

One look at Lancers' Field and it is easy to see that a great deal of time and attention is paid to grounds-keeping in the offseason. Not only does that keep the field looking plush, it helps to develop comraderie and pride in the program.

"We come out here in the fall and work on the field. For the first week or two, that's all we do," first-year coach Stony Wine said. "That brings the team together. I give them several jobs to do, and when it's done we go home.

"That's kind of how they approach the game of baseball."

Wine, who took over for long-time coach Lind Hartsell (now the athletic director), obviously wants to continue the tradition of bringing in some of the best area talent to LCC.

"He's (Hartsell) built good relationships with Wayne County and the surrounding area. This is the best baseball in North Carolina," Wine said. "I was around here for 10 or 15 years, then I got away from it. Now, I'm back and I see it.

"We're not going to change anything. We've got a good thing going here right now, and that's all because coach Hartsell did a good job recruiting."

As the Lancers head down the final stretch of the regular season and get closer to the playoffs, this team seems far from satisfied despite a gaudy record and stout individual and team statistics.

"I think everyone on this team wants nothing short of Millington, Tennessee (home of the Division II World Series)," Snyder said. "A championship up there would be wonderful, and we believe we can do it."