Caldwell County blanks Post 11
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on August 9, 2007 1:48 PM
GARNER -- Bleach-blond locks peaking out from underneath his sweat-stained baseball cap, Caldwell County pitcher Jimmy Messer hardly seemed bothered by the oppressive heat Wednesday afternoon.
Messer mixed his pitches well, but his curveball constantly irritated Wayne County Post 11's batters. The right-hander limited the Area I champions to three hits in a six-inning stint as the 29ers pounded out an 11-0, eight-inning victory on the Trojan Park diamond.
Caldwell County (29-11 overall) opposes Garner in second-round action today during the 2007 N.C. Senior American Legion state tournament. Wayne County, which had its 10-game win streak snapped, squared off against Area III champion Randolph County in an elimination game at 12:30 p.m.
"I thought Messer looked good," said Post 11 coach Brad Reaves. "I don't think he isn't anything we haven't seen before. We didn't adjust to the curveball and we knew it was coming. He's a bulldog and keeps coming after you."
Messer picked up his 22nd mound win, which included a 15-0 worksheet during South Caldwell's run to the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 4-A championship. He allowed a base runner in five of six innings, but kept Wayne County (23-5) scoreless for the first time in 55 games.
Lead-off batter Jackson Massey, Walker Gourley and Connor Narron each scratched a hit during the first four innings. Post 11, however, batted 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position and left nine men on base. Five runners were stranded at either second or third base.
Messer (7-1) recorded seven strikeouts and five flyouts. Post 11 popped up twice in the infield and grounded out on three occasions against the North Carolina recruit, who made the final 32-player cut for the USA Junior Olympic team.
"We didn't take advantage of our opportunities," said Reaves. "I think if we scratch a run early, we're OK. I thought if we could keep it 2-0, we'll get to him (Messer) because he had thrown a lot of pitches, too."
Caldwell County wasted a bases-loaded chance in the second inning, but plated two runs in the third against Garrett Davis. The right-hander yielded a lead-off single to Josh Severt, who scored on Shane Clawson's RBI double.
Clawson (1-for-3) scooted home on a wild pitch. It was just the third and fourth earned runs logged against Davis in the postseason.
Davis (3-1) threw a perfect fourth and hit one batter in the fifth. Despite dousing himself with an ice-cool, ammonia-water towel after each inning, Davis couldn't go any farther on the mound. He threw 91 pitches as the heat index slowly inched past the 110-degree mark.
"Pitch-count wise, Garrett dug himself such a hole there wasn't much gas left in the tank," said Reaves. "I thought he was all over the zone, but he had good velocity and good stuff. We just didn't make good pitches on 1-2 and 0-2 counts."
Post 11 southpaw Grant Sasser retired all three batters in the sixth, but repeat the effort in the seventh. The 29ers sent 11 men to the plate and tallied seven runs (four earned) off seven hits.
Brad Chavis slugged his 15th home run of the season, a two-run shot, to ignite the offensive uprising. Zack Merrikan and Josh Nelson, the No. 9 batter in the lineup, each provided a two-RBI hit.
"It took the wind out of us when they went up by seven," said Reaves.
Seven of nine 29ers posted one or more hits against three of four Post 11 pitchers. Caldwell County, which has appeared in four straight state tournaments, added two runs in the eighth inning.
Wayne County suffered its first shutout since July 3, 2005. It was the first time anyone outside Area I competition had beaten Post 11 by the 10-run rule.
"Early in the season we talked about where we were going to get runs from and it came back to haunt us today," said Reaves. "You can't win with three hits. That was my only disappointment and we'll get better from it. The kids have done a good job making adjustments after games like this.
"I hope that's what we'll do this time."
2007 N.C. Senior
American Legion State
(at Trojan Park, Garner)
Caldwell County 002 000 72 -- 11 13 2
Wayne County 000 000 00 -- 0 3 1
Leading hitters -- Caldwell County -- Josh Severt 2-5; Shane Clawson 1-3, 2B, RBI; Brad Chavis 1-5, HR, 2 RBI; Brad Crag 2-2; David Coffey 2-5, 2B, RBI; Zack Merrikan 3-4, 3 RBI; Jordan 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI. Wayne County -- Jackson Massey 1-3; Walker Gourley 1-4; Connor Narron 1-3.
DP -- Caldwell County 1. LOB -- Caldwell County 9, Wayne County 9. SB -- Massey, Clawson, Hendrix.
IP H R ER BB SO
Messer (W, 7-1) 6 3 0 0 3 7
Berry 1 0 0 0 0 0
Poarch 1 0 0 0 1 0
Davis (L, 3-1) 5 4 2 2 3 7
Sasser 1 1/3 5 7 4 1 0
Bullard 1 4 2 2 2 0
Rose 2/3 0 0 0 0 1
WP -- Davis 2, Messer, Bullard. PB -- Wright. BK -- Sasser. HBP -- by Davis (Crag), by Messer (Rose).
T -- 2:32.
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