Wayne County bows out of Area I East playoffs
By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on July 6, 2006 2:07 PM
MOUNT OLIVE -- Win or lose, most coaches have left Scarborough Field this season with similar sentiments after facing Wayne County this season.
Edenton coach Bob Jordan is no different.
"That's a good young ball team, and they're only going to get better," Jordan said.
But in Game 2 of the Area I East Division playoffs on Wednesday, Jordan's squad's experience paid off as Post 40 finished off a sweep of Post 11 after a 13-2 win in seven innings. Edenton, the third seed, will face top-seeded Wilson in the best 3-of-5 second round.
Wayne County, which had with three rising sophomores in its starting lineup for most of the second half of the season, concluded the year at 12-12 overall after a sixth-place finish in the division.
Edenton (14-8), a team full of recent high school graduates and with two post-high school performers, banged out 10 runs on 12 hits in the first three innings to take a sizable early lead. Eight of Post 40's starters had hits in the first three innings and all nine reached base against Wayne County starter David Combs and reliever Brandon Price. Joseph Westbrook, Brian Leary and Kirk Higgins keyed Edenton's outburst -- combining for seven hits and six RBIs.
"They don't miss fastballs. To me, I think they are the best hitting team in the league," Wayne County coach Brad Reaves said. "They're well-coached and they've got some kids that can play the game."
Post 11 aided the visitors with seven errors on the game -- including four in the first three innings -- leading to 10 unearned runs. Two Wayne County miscues in the second helped Post 40's six-run second, which chased Combs (2-3) from the game. Of the right-hander's seven runs allowed, only one proved to be earned.
"Our bats are starting to come alive, and we got some help from them," said Jordan, whose team finished just 4-16 last year. "But we got a lot of key two-out hits, and I think that was big tonight. We need to just continue to play good solid baseball and see where things lead. We've had a successful season, especially by Edenton's standards."
Edenton tacked on three in the third against Price -- capped by Leary's two-out, run-scoring single -- to push the score to 10-1. Price, a rising senior at Charles B. Aycock, tossed a 1-2-3 fourth, before pitching out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth to keep Post 40 off the board.
Facing Post 11's third pitcher, Taylor Sutton, Edenton's final three runs proved to be unearned as Wayne County had two errors in the sixth and one final miscue in the seventh to push the score to its final margin.
Recent Southern Wayne graduate, Ashton Langston, relieved Sutton and appeared to be out of the seventh. But Edenton extended the inning when a baserunner, which appeared to be out of the base path, dodged Thomas Pilkington's tag at third. Two batters later, a costly infield error allowed the final two Edenton runs to score.
The support proved to be more than enough for Post 40 righty Steven Brown, who yielded just two runs on seven hits in six innings of work. Brown's defense consistently made the plays behind him as he finished with just one strikeout.
Post 11 got on the board in the second as Austin Hood, one of five Wayne County performers playing in his final game, plated Joey Moye from third with a two-out base hit to left. Brown tossed three-straight scoreless innings, then the home team posted its final run of the season when David Smeltzer started the sixth with a single to center and later scored on a fielder's choice by Tyler Ham to make it 11-2.
After Edenton's two-run seventh, Wayne needed two runs to stay alive, but reliever Austin Beasley tossed a perfect seventh to send Edenton into the second round.
With the 2006 campaign complete, Reaves is already looking forward to 2007.
"We're going to lose a few players, but we're going to get two of the best starting pitchers (Garrett Davis and Grant Sasser) in the state back," Reaves said. "These younger guys got some valuable experience. Legion baseball always cycles. It's been a long time since we've had a down cycle, but we were due one.
"Honestly, I don't really call it a down year to make the playoffs and finish .500 with the young team we had. But we'll be better next year."
Moye, Hood, Langston, Combs and Bennett Jeffreys played in their final games for Wayne County.
Notes: Post 11 suffered back-to-back, mercy-rule losses for the first time since 2002 ... Wayne County was eliminated by a two-game sweep for the second time in as many years ... Jackson Massey led Post 11 at the plate this season with 31 hits, while Pilkington, Gourley and Jeffreys had over 20 hits each ... Langston emerged the staff leader in wins with a 5-3 mark as Combs and Price picked up two wins each.
Area I East Division
Edenton 163 001 2 -- 13 14 1
Wayne 010 001 0 -- 2 7 7
Leading hitters -- Edenton -- Joseph Westbrook 3-6, 2 runs, RBI; Brian Leary 2-3, 2 RBIs; Kirk Higgins 2-4, 3 RBIs; Robbie Atkinson 1-3, 2B, RBI; John Layton 2-3, 2B, RBI. Wayne County -- Walker Gourley 1-3, 2B; David Smeltzer 1-1, run; Joey Moye 1-2, run; Tyler Ham 1-3, RBI; Will Edgerton 1-3, 2B; Austin Hood 1-3, RBI; Thomas Pilkington 1-3.
IP H R ER BB SO
S. Brown (W) 6 7 2 2 2 1
A. Beasley 1 0 0 0 0 0
D. Combs (L, 2-3) 12/3 7 7 1 0 0
B. Price 31/3 6 3 2 2 4
T. Sutton 11/3 1 3 0 2 0
Langston 2/3 0 0 0 0 0
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