Junior Legion Baseball - Post 11 moving on
By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on July 10, 2006 2:12 PM
DUDLEY -- Wayne County Junior Legion coach Nelson Cunningham gave Taylor Allen an option heading into Sunday's elimination game against Lenoir County.
Either remain in his familiar closer role, or get the start with his team's season on the line.
Allen chose the latter and excelled as the Rosewood product tossed a complete-game, five-hitter in Wayne's 5-1 win at the Doyle Whitfield Athletic Complex.
"I just wanted the ball. I was ready for it," Allen said. "There's really no difference in starting or closing to me. It's just baseball, and I love it."
The victory sends Wayne (15-4) to Northern Nash on Tuesday at 7 p.m. for Game 1 of the second round, which will be the same format as the first round but with even bigger stakes. Wayne, Pitt County-South Central, Northern Nash and Roanoke Rapids will be battling for two spots in the eastern championship tournament, beginning Saturday at a site to be determined.
Lenoir concluded the season at 13-10.
Allen finished with just three strikeouts, but walked only one in his first seven-inning stint of the season. Lenoir managed an unearned run in the second when Tyler Potter scored from second on an error by Wayne's shortstop. From there, Allen tossed a 1-2-3 third, then pitched around a single in each of the last four innings -- getting consistent defensive play behind him.
Trailing 4-1, Lenoir's biggest threat came in the fifth as relief pitcher Matt Kennedy reached on a one-out, infield single before C.C. Croom reached second on a two-base error.
With runners on second-and-third with one out, Lenoir's Dejaun Gray missed a squeeze bunt attempt as Kennedy's courtesy runner raced for home. Wayne catcher Garrett Barfield quickly raced down the line and fired to shortstop Timmy Rogers, covering third, to get the courtesy runner. Rogers then tossed to Chad Gurley at second to catch Croom, who got caught too far off the bag.
"I thought he (Lenoir coach C.C. Tillman) might come with a squeeze, so we called a curveball outside," Cunningham said. "It all just worked out. You don't see a 2-6-4 double play everyday, but that was big for us."
Lenoir appeared to be on pace for one last rally in the seventh when pinch-hitter Matt Wetherington doubled to left to start the inning. But when Wetherington reached second, Cunningham brought it to the attention of the home plate umpire that Wetherington did not report into the game. After a brief conference with the field umpire, the plate ump ruled Wetherington out for the first out of the inning.
Brandon Whitehurst followed with a single, but Allen induced a fielder's choice groundout, then got Kennedy swinging on a high fastball to finish off the win.
"Taylor Allen threw a good ball game. He wanted the ball, I gave it to him and he came out and did a good job," Cunningham said. "He worked ahead all night long, and the boys played pretty good defense behind him."
Wayne got on the board with two in the first against Lenoir starter Chris Justice as Alex Casey started the inning with a walk and eventually raced home on a double-steal. Later in the first, Byron Powell and Tyler Wicks posted back-to-back singles with Wicks' base hit to right bringing home Garrett Barfield from third to make it 2-0.
Powell smashed a two-out double to center in the third and scored on an outfield error, while Barfield knocked home Scott Holloman, who had two hits, with an infield single against Kennedy in the fourth to make it 4-1. Kennedy relieved Justice in the inning after the starter issued back-to-back walks to Casey and Gurley to load the bases.
Wayne struck for its final run one inning later as Rogers reached on an error, advanced to second an errant pick-off throw, then moved to third on a passed ball before Holloman brought him home with base hit to right.
By game's end, Lenoir committed four errors -- leading to three unearned runs.
"That's been the story of our year. We've got a lot of physical ability, but we haven't always executed," Tillman said. "Be it defensive and offensive execution, or poor base running, it's been those little things that have kept us from being more successful."
Coming off of a tough loss to South Central on Saturday, Cunningham was pleased with how his team bounced back.
"We learned from last night. I told them to come out and have a little fun," he said. "I just hope we can keep it up. You want to get that first win in this format, and that's what I hope we can do at Northern Nash."
2006 Junior American Legion
(at Southern Wayne HS, Dudley)
Lenoir County 010 000 0 -- 1 5 4
Wayne County 201 110 x -- 5 6 2
Leading hitters -- Lenoir County -- Stephen Pridgen 2-3. Wayne County -- Garrett Barfield 1-4, RBI; Byron Powell 2-4, 2B, run; Tyler Wicks 1-3, RBI; Scott Holloman 2-3, RBI, run.
IP H R ER BB SO
C. Justice (L) 42/3 4 4 2 3 1
M. Kennedy 21/3 2 1 0 1 1
T. Allen (W) 7 5 1 0 1 3
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