08/13/07 — Post 11 is state runner-up

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Post 11 is state runner-up

By News-Argus Staff
Published in Sports on August 13, 2007 1:48 PM

GARNER -- Chris Henderson threw a complete-game, two-hitter and Cherryville Post 100 claimed the N.C. Senior American Legion state championship with a 6-1 decision over Wayne County Post 11 on Sunday afternoon.

Henderson, a rising sophomore at Lenoir-Rhyne College, notched 11 strikeouts as Cherryville (40-8 overall) earned a trip to the Southeast Regional in Albany, Ga.

Henderson allowed just two base runners in the first five innings. The right-hander hit Jay Rose in the second inning, and yielded a fifth-inning base hit to Thomas Pilkington. Pilkington was erased on a double play.

"Henderson was good for them," said Post 11 coach Brad Reaves. "He really was. He mixed things up and threw strikes. He's a battler; goes right after you. I think he threw 21 innings in this tournament and caught behind the plate the rest of the time.

"You don't find many like that."

The teams battled to a scoreless tie through 51/2 innings.

Cherryville, which picked up its sixth state title, erupted for three runs in the sixth against Post 11 starter Garrett Davis. Three hits, including an RBI shot from Henderson, and an error allowed Post 100 to take command on the Trojan Park diamond.

Davis, in his final American Legion outing, worked six innings. Jackson Massey took over in the seventh and surrendered a late three-run inning.

Wayne County (27-6) finished runner-up for the second time in program history. It was Post 11's sixth game in five-day stretch that included three afternoon contests played in 100-degree temperatures.

"We just ran out gas and you could see our kids fading every inning," said Reaves. "Our kids certainly gave us everything they had. It was a good ball game."

Post 11 eliminated Caldwell County 6-1 earlier in the day.

Tyler Ham, who drilled a two-run homer Saturday against Cherryville, provided a first-inning RBI groundout. Massey homered in the third off Post 29 right-hander Jimmy Messer, who has verbally committed to North Carolina.

Walker Gourley added a run-scoring double to give Post 11 right-hander T.J. Hinson all the working room he needed. The Lenoir Community College hurler threw eight superb innings and scattered seven hits against the 29ers, who knocked off Wayne County in the opening round.

"T.J. was dominant and really the story of the game," said Reaves. "He just refuses to lose. He was hitting spots and changing speeds, and that happened after they hit a home run early on a breaking ball.

"They began to sit back and he completely changed to fastballs, knocked it right out of their hands. You have to give credit to Ham, too. They just made adjustments."

Wayne County pounded out 11 hits in the win.

Despite the season-ending loss to perennial power Cherryville, Reaves couldn't have been more pleased with the team's performance. A mix of seven returners and 11 newcomers compiled a magnificent 14-2 postseason run.

"We still had a good run to do what we did," said Reaves. "I told our kids I wouldn't trade them for any other team, or player, in this tournament. I would have loved to play Cherryville in a series because I think we'd have beaten them.

"It was a huge year."