06/30/06 — Sweet Sweep Ñ Post 11 clinches playoff berth

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Sweet Sweep Ñ Post 11 clinches playoff berth

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on June 30, 2006 2:06 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Wayne County Post 11 hurlers David Combs and Brandon Price realized the sequence of events surrounding Thursday's doubleheader against New Bern Post 24.

A split couldn't hurt, but two losses could certainly damage Wayne County's playoff chances.

So, Combs and Price did their jobs in dominating fashion after shaky starts. Each right-hander earned a complete-game victory, and Post 11 swept New Bern 11-1 and 4-3 on the Scarborough Field diamond. Wayne County evened its Area I East Division worksheet at 9-9 and climbed into sixth place overall heading into the final weekend of regular-season play.

New Bern (10-10), which dropped a twinbill Wednesday against defending state champion Pitt County 39, tumbled to seventh place at 8-10.

"I think both of them were jacked up a little bit because they knew how important these games were and they blew a little energy off (late in the game)," said Wayne County coach Brad Reaves. "Maybe we're learning how to win. With a young group, you've got to learn how to win."

New Bern, which has lost five of its last six contests, put the lead-off runner aboard in two of the first four innings against Combs and had nine runners on base overall during that stretch. The visitors managed three hits, including a double by Mike Buck, but couldn't scratch in the scoring column.

Combs escaped a bases-loaded jam in the second inning and benefited from nifty defensive play in the fourth. Walker Gourley's diving grab of a line drive and an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play squashed Post 24's rally.

Combs (2-2) retired seven consecutive batters from that point before surrendering a two-out triple to Alex Dunn in the sixth. Dunn eventually scored on a wild pitch to spoil Combs' shutout bid.

"David is a fighter, but that's the best I've seen him," said Reaves. "David's emotions didn't come out today; didn't let things affect him. He made some quality pitches when he needed them.

"As he got a little more tired, he started pitching instead of throwing."

New Bern collected four hits against Combs, who recorded a season-high nine strikeouts and collected his first mound victory since a season-opening win at Garner.

Post 11 capitalized on six Post 24 errors and pushed seven earned runs across against right-hander Curtis Sawyer. Joey Moye batted 3-for-4 with three RBI and Tyler Ham added two hits, including a double, and one RBI.

Bennett Jeffreys provided two hits. Thomas Pilkington doubled and drove in a run, while Jackson Massey and Austin Hood each contributed one hit.

"Anytime you can put pressure on anybody's defense, these are high school kids and they're going to kick it around," said Reaves. "When we can put it in play and not punch out so much, we can put pressure on people and we'll start winning."

Wayne County improved to 80-5 all-time in games decided by the 10-run rule.

Defensive miscues victimized Price early in the nightcap. New Bern built a 2-0 lead on Keith Spinner's RBI double and an infield throwing error.

Post 11 committed four errors in the first two innings and fell behind 3-0.

"I was looking around for a tent in the first inning big enough to put over the field because we had a circus going on," said Reaves. "That may be the first time I've seen four errors in three outs. But they battled back and showed a little life."

Wayne County (11-10) rallied for a 3-3 tie in the second inning. John Wooten drew a one-out walk against Post 24 southpaw Tyler Gohn and moved into scoring position on Will Edgerton's double into right field.

Hood closed the gap to 3-2 with a two-RBI single to left field. Hood stole second and scored on Pilkington's two-out single that dropped into shallow right field.

New Bern's Max Schott slapped a double off the wall in left field, but Price induced a pop-up to Jeffreys behind home plate to end the inning. Price allowed a base runner in each of the final four innings, but the Charles B. Aycock product prospered from his defense.

Pilkington, Walker Gourley and Brady Wiggins combined for a 5-4-3 double play in the fourth. Wooten single-handedly turned an inning-ending double play in the sixth when he snagged a line drive and stepped on first base.

Price (2-0) finished with a six-hitter and fanned six Post 24 batters.

"We had some opportunities, but base-running mistakes hurt us," said Post 24 coach Gary Smith. "The double play at first base took us out of a (scoring) chance.

"They made the plays they had to once we got ahead (early). They came back and strung a few hits together."

David Smeltzer, a second-year Legion performer, delivered the game-winning RBI in the third. Moye led off with a single and advanced to third when Schott couldn't handle Gohn's pickoff throw at first base.

Smeltzer hit a two-strike ground ball to short and Moye scooted home for the 4-3 advantage. It was Smeltzer's first RBI of the season.

"That's the kind of things that we've got to do (to win)," said Reaves. "When you get a runner on third with less than two outs, you should score in any league."

Wayne County concludes its regular-season schedule Saturday at division nemesis Wilson, which has won the last four meetings between the two teams. Game time is 7 p.m. at historic Fleming Stadium.

Game 1

New Bern 000 001 -- 1 4 6

Wayne County 003 053 -- 11 11 1

One out when game-ending run scored.

Leading hitters -- New Bern -- Alex Dunn 2-3, 3B. Wayne County -- Jackson Massey 1-3, RBi; Thomas Pilkington 1-3, 2B, RBI; Bennett Jeffreys 2-3; Joey Moye 3-4, 3 RBI; Tyler Ham 2-3, RBi; Will Edgerton 1-3, RBI.


New Bern

Sawyer (L) 51/3 11 11 7 4 3


Combs (W, 2-2) 6 4 1 1 3 9

WP -- Combs, Sawyer. PB -- Schott. HBP -- Fuller (by Combs), Hardeman (by Combs), Herrington (by Combs), Ham (by Sawyer), Dorman (by Combs).

Game 2

New Bern 210 000 0 -- 3 7 3

Wayne County 031 000 x -- 4 6 5

Leading hitters -- New Bern -- Josh Titus 1-2; Keith Spinner 1-3, 2B, RBI; Max Schott 1-3, 2B; Jerome Herrington 1-2; Bobby Dorman 3-3, RBI. Wayne County -- Walker Gourley 1-1; Thomas Pilkington 2-3, RBI; Joey Moye 1-3; Will Edgerton 1-3, 2B; Austin Hood 1-1.


New Bern

Gohn (L) 6 6 4 3 5 7

Wayne County

Price (W, 2-0) 7 7 3 1 1 6

WP -- Gohn, Price. HBP -- Herrington (by Price).