Post 11 splits with defending champs
By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on June 20, 2006 2:02 PM
MOUNT OLIVE -- On paper, Wayne County's home doubleheader on Monday against Pitt County Post 39 appeared to be nothing short of a mismatch.
After all, Pitt County is the defending state champion with three MLB draftees and a current or future collegiate player at every starting position.
But Post 11, a team with nine first-year American Legion performers, stood strong against its Area I East rival -- out-hitting Post 39 overall and earning a split at Scarborough Field.
Down 3-2 in the bottom of the seventh, Wayne County took game one in dramatic fashion when clean-up hitter Bennett Jeffreys slugged a walk-off, ground rule double to left against Pitt County's Ross Warren. Jackson Massey and Walker Gourley scored on the two-bagger to give the home team a 4-3 victory.
"I was just looking for something to hit into the outfield to get the run in from third and at least tie the game up," Jeffreys said of the game-winning hit. "I got something I could handle and hit it hard somewhere."
In game two, Wayne County (6-8, 4-7) finished with 10 hits and was essentially one big hit away from pulling even on several occasions. But a pair of Pitt County left-handers, Bryan Hill and Andrew Pair, consistently pitched away from trouble as the visitors took the nightcap, 4-1.
Right-hander Ashton Langston, who picked up the win on Sunday in relief at Snow Hill, went seven strong innings in game one to improve his record to 3-2. Langston scattered seven hits and yielded just three runs (two earned) against the potent Post 39 lineup.
"That looked like the Ashton of two years ago. I was impressed with his demeanor on the mound," Wayne County coach Brad Reaves said. "He worked quick, didn't let the emotions get to him and the kids rallied around him."
The Southern Wayne graduate struck out five, hit two batters, walked one and benefited from errorless play by his defense. Langston was three outs away from claiming the win in the top of the seventh, but Pitt County rallied for two runs behind the clutch hitting of Josh Ashton and Landis Wilson. Wilson tripled to score Ashton, before scoring the tying run on a passed ball.
David Combs (3-3) knocked home Wayne County's first run off Ross Warren in the second inning, while Gourley (2-4) posted an RBI in the fifth to give Post 11 a 2-1 lead. Post 11 out-hit Post 39, 9-7 in game one and 19-15 in both games.
Pitt County, which is 4-4 overall and in division play, jumped out to an early lead in the second game, posting three runs (two earned) on three hits in the first two innings against Massey. From there, the southpaw gave up just one more run on five hits to keep Wayne County within striking distance. Massey, a Mount Olive College signee, finished with seven strikeouts and three walks in a complete-game effort.
Post 11 struck for its lone run in the fourth inning as Tyler Ham slapped a two-out, opposite-field single through the left side to score Jeffreys, who walked, to make the score 4-1. Wayne County had the leadoff man on base in each of the last three innings and posted four singles in the seventh against Pair. After Gourley's single to right loaded the bases with two outs, Pair struck out the final batter he faced to keep Post 11 off the scoreboard and finished off the save.
Hill went five innings, yielding one run on five hits with four strikeouts and one walk. Pair tossed the final two, giving up no runs on five hits. Both received flawless play behind them by the Pitt County defense.
Wayne County, now 1-5 at home, stranded seven runners in game two, including four in scoring position.
"These kids are learning everyday ... we had three freshmen on the field against the defending state champion. After winning the first game, they knew how to win the second game," Reaves said. "If we get a break here or there, we probably do win it."
North Carolina signee Ryan Graepel paced Post 39's offense in both games and finished with five hits and two RBIs in two plate appearances. Hill, Warren and Wilson also led Pitt County's offensive effort.
"We hustled and played a lot harder in the second game," Post 39 coach Mike Mullis said. "Wayne County played well and they are only going to get better. They are a young club, but they are scrappy and talented."
Wayne County returns to division action tonight at home against Rocky Mount, then will break for the State Games until Edenton visits MOC on Saturday.
Post 39 100 000 2 -- 3 7 1
Post 11 010 010 2 -- 4 9 0
Leading hitters -- Pitt Co. Post 39 -- Bryan Hill 2-3, run; Ryan Graepel 2-3, 2 2Bs, RBI; Landis Wilson 1-3, 3B, RBI, run. Wayne County -- Walker Gourley 2-4, 2B, RBI, run; Bennett Jeffreys 1-3, 2B, 2 RBIs; David Combs 3-3, 2B, RBI.
DP -- Pitt Co. Post 39 1, Wayne County 1. LOB -- Pitt Co. Post 39 5, Wayne County 8. SH -- Biagini, C. Massey. CS -- Board.
IP H R ER BB SO
Pitt Co. Post 39
R. Warren (L) 61/3 9 3 3 3 4
A. Langston (W, 3-2) 7 7 3 2 1 5
One out when game-winning run scored.
WP -- Warren. PB -- Combs. HBP -- Aldridge, Board (by Langston), Jeffreys (by Warren).
Post 39 120 100 0 -- 4 8 0
Post 11 000 100 0 -- 1 10 1
Leading hitters -- Pitt Co. Post 39 -- Ryan Graepel 3-4, RBI; Ross Warren 2-3, RBI, 2 runs. Wayne County -- Tyler Ham 1-2, RBI; John Wooten 2-3; Will Edgerton 2-3.
DP -- Pitt Co. Post 39 1. LOB -- Pitt Co. Post 39 5, Wayne County 7. SH -- Wilson.
IP H R ER BB SO
Pitt. Co. Post 39
B. Hill (W) 5 5 1 1 1 4
A. Pair (S) 2 5 0 0 0 1
J. Massey (L, 1-2) 7 8 4 3 3 7
WP -- J. Massey (2). HBP -- Hood (by Hill).
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