Post 11 dumps New Bern
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on June 19, 2007 1:47 PM
MOUNT OLIVE -- Give Sterling Grice a little time.
Unaccustomed to the rigors of American Legion baseball, Grice continues to find his groove for Wayne County Post 11. Monday evening was certainly no exception for the Southern Wayne graduate.
Grice yielded four first-inning runs on four hits to New Bern Post 24. The near-disastrous start prompted activity in the bullpen, but Post 11 skipper Brad Reaves stayed with the gutsy right-hander.
Grice threw three-plus scoreless innings and got some welcomed run support as Wayne County triumphed 10-6 at Scarborough Field. Post 11 improved to 5-1 overall and 2-1 against Area I East South Division opposition.
New Bern (4-6 overall) evened its South Division ledger at 2-2.
"Sterling is going to give us quality innings and he's been out of it for a little while," said Reaves. "I think he's still learning how to pitch at this level. I thought he really settled down after the first inning and got the ball down (in the zone).
"That's where he has to pitch because he's not going to throw it by anybody. He has to hit his spots to get ground balls and pop-ups."
The first four batters reached base for New Bern, which hasn't won at Wayne County since 2003. Brett Williams (2-for-5) broke the scoreless tie with a two-RBI double and Sam Sanders followed with a one-out, two-RBI single.
Grice induced back-to-back ground balls to escape further damage.
Post 11 responded with two runs in the first on Jackson Massey's RBI single and a wild pitch from Post 24 right-hander Brandon DeLong.
Wayne County added four second-inning runs on four hits against DeLong, who has signed with Charlotte. Dave Overman got plunked in the back with the bases loaded and Walker Gourley (3-for-5) cleared the bags with a three-RBI double.
"The one thing I was really questioning this year is whether we're going to hit, and the last two or three ball games, we've hit pretty good," said Reaves. "I was tickled to death, which I figured we'd do it. Anytime you can come back and put up a run or two, after they put up a four-run first inning, that's big for us.
"I imagine Sterling let out a big sigh of relief. That was big for him to come up and put three more zeros (on the board)."
Grice, in his third mound appearance, surrendered a second-inning single. But he retired seven of the next eight batters he faced until encountering trouble in the fifth.
"A lot of times, a big lead early, ain't quite what you want," said Post 24 coach Gary Smith. "Pitchers tend to make adjustments quicker than hitters. Hitters, after getting a big lead, tend to change their approach -- not quite as much intensity, a little more free-swinging and kind of get themselves out more often, which we were doing.
"We didn't strike out a lot. But after that first inning, we didn't hit the ball hard a lot, either."
Thomas Pilkington (2-for-3) and center fielder Nolan Lancaster (3-for-4) supplied RBI singles in the third inning to give Grice a four-run cushion. Grice looked as if he might lose that advantage when he issued back-to-back walks in the fifth inning.
T.J. Hinson relieved Grice and fanned the first batter he faced. Post 11's middle infield of Gourley and Overman notched the second out a fielder's choice. Catcher Tyler Ham gunned down another runner at third to end the inning.
New Bern touched Post 11 reliever Taylor Bullard, from Harrells Christian, for two runs in the seventh. Post 24 loaded the bases in the eighth, but right-hander Garrett Davis closed the door. Davis retired all four batters he faced for his first save of the season.
Post 11 continues South Division play Wednesday at Pitt County 160, and entertains two-time defending champion Pitt County 39 on Thursday.
New Bern 400 000 200 -- 6 7 0
Post 11 242 001 10x -- 10 15 1
Leading hitters -- New Bern -- Bobby Dorman 2-3; Brett Williams 2-5, 2B, 4 RBI; Sam Sanders 1-4, 2 RBI; Anthony Holloway 1-3, 2B. Wayne County -- Walker Gourley 3-5, 2 2Bs, 3 RBI; Jackson Massey 2-4, RBI; Garrett Davis 2-5, RBI; Tyler Ham 2-2; Thomas Pilkington 2-3, RBI; Nolan Lancaster 3-4, RBI; Dave Overman 2 RBI.
DP -- New Bern 3. LOB -- New Bern 8, Wayne County 5. SB -- Sanders, Edgerton, Massey, Wright. CS -- Bo. Dorman.
IP H R ER BB SO
DeLong (L) 2 2/3 11 8 8 1 2
Gohn 5 1/3 4 2 2 2 1
Grice 4 5 4 4 3 2
Hinson (W, 2-1) 2 0 0 0 0 1
Bullard 1 2/3 2 2 2 4 2
Davis (S, 1) 1 1/3 0 0 0 0 2
WP -- DeLong. HBP -- by DeLong (Overman), by DeLong (Edgerton), by Grice (Hardeman).
T -- 2:27.
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