It's do or die time
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on July 5, 2006 2:12 PM
EDENTON -- Residents of this waterfront town migrated down Broad Street, which runs parallel to historic Hicks Field, toward the bay during the twilight hours to watch the Fourth of July celebration Tuesday evening.
Meanwhile, the Edenton Post 40 baseball team staged an impressive fireworks show of its own inside the stadium on the Holmes High School campus. Edenton uncorked five home runs and blistered Wayne County 13-3 in their Area I East Division quarterfinal-round playoff battle.
Post 40 seized a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series and will attempt to eliminate Post 11 from postseason competition today at Scarborough Field. Game time is 6 p.m.
"We played like absolute individuals," said Wayne County coach Brad Reaves, whose teams have now lost three consecutive playoff games. "We can't come back (today) like that. That was just a terrible effort by 18 ballplayers."
Reaves' post-game ire stemmed from Post 11's inability to play consistent from the first to last pitch. Wayne County tagged Post 40 right-hander Landon Jordan for two runs in the opening inning, but completely shut down offensively from that point.
Post 11 put 14 runners on base, scored three and left eight stranded. Jordan retired seven straight batters until issuing a lead-off single to David Combs in the fourth. Joey Moye (2-for-3) followed with a single into left field to put runners on the corners with Wayne County down 3-2.
After a pop-up in first-base territory, Will Edgerton connected on a single to left field. Combs attempted to score on the play, but was tagged out at home. That also angered Reaves.
"We've got a play at the plate and we don't have anyone there telling us what to do," said Reaves. "You have somebody telling us what to do right there, and I believe we're safe."
Neither pitcher yielded a run in the fourth, but Edenton collected three back-breaking runs in the fifth. Post 11 left-hander Jackson Massey, who lost his third straight decision on the mound, hit East Carolina signee Broc Sutton.
Brian Leary hit a high pop fly in the infield and first baseman Chris Massey called for the ball. It eventually bounced off the mound and one pitch later Kirk Higgins slapped the third of Post 40's playoff-high five homers -- a three-run shot -- over the left-field wall.
"He told me he lost it in the sun and I have to take his word for it," said Reaves. "But, we've still got to make the play right there. We just didn't do the little things all night."
Edenton tallied 10 runs (seven earned) on eight hits in the final 3-plus innings and recorded its first-ever postseason victory over Wayne County. It was the first playoff meeting between the two teams since 1995.
Zack Beasley and David Dail, the No. 9 batter in the lineup, each banged out three hits for Post 40. Beasley ripped a solo home run in the third inning. Higgins added two hits in his final three at-bats after striking out in the first and third innings.
Robbie Atkinson delivered two home runs and five RBI in a reserve role. Atkinson's second home, a three-run shot in the eighth, induced the 10-run rule on a sweltering and humid afternoon.
"We talk all year about being patient, seeing the baseball and hitting good pitches," said Post 40 coach Bob Jordan. "We were tight and we had been struggling with the bats. The two (third-inning) home runs loosened everybody up and relaxed everybody.
"I think we were a little more confident (after that)."
Edenton (13-8) became just the third team to defeat Post 11 by the 10-run rule. Pitt County Post 39 and Snow Hill have combined for five game-shortened victories due to the mercy rule.
Wayne County (12-11) hardly resembled the team that had beaten six of its last seven opponents to end regular-season play. Reaves' club had its modest three-game win streak snapped and lost just its fourth road game of the season.
"They didn't play like a team (on a streak)," said Reaves. "I'm not so sure that some of them aren't ready to go to the beach. That's what I just told them. They'll have a character assessment tomorrow.
"We'll find out if they want to keep playing."
Notes: Wayne County's Massey and reliever T.J. Hinson combined for 10 strikeouts. ... Moye ended an 0-for-4 slump and now has six hits in the last four games. ... Seven Post 11 starters and two reserves each had at least one putout in the game. ... Wayne County's pitching staff has allowed 10 home runs this season.
Area I East Division
Wayne County 200 000 10 -- 3 9 3
Edenton 003 031 33 -- 13 13 2
Game-ending run scored with one out in eighth inning.
Leading hitters -- Wayne County -- Thomas Pilkington 1-4, RBI; David Combs 1-2; John Wooten 1-1; Joey Moye 2-3, 2B, 2 RBI; Will Edgerton 1-4. Edenton -- Zack Presley 3-5, HR, 3 RBI; Broc Sutton 1-3, HR, RBI; Kirk Higgins 2-5, HR, 3 RBI; Robbie Atkinson 2-2, 2 HR, 5 RBI; David Dail 3-4, RBI.
IP H R ER BB SO
Massey (L, 1-3) 5 7 6 3 1 7
Hinson 21/3 6 7 6 2 3
Jordan (W) 6 7 2 2 2 3
Westbrook 2 2 1 0 1 2
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