07/18/08 — Hardee shuts down Wayne County offense

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Hardee shuts down Wayne County offense

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on July 18, 2008 1:36 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Wayne County Post 11 hadn't experienced defeat in six consecutive postseason series until Thursday evening.

Pitt County Post 39 used its ace to trump Post 11's bid for a sixth consecutive series sweep on the Scarborough Field diamond. Right-hander Chase Hardee threw a complete-game, three-hitter as Pitt County prevailed 5-1.

Post 39 staved off elimination in the best-of-five series, forcing a fourth game tonight at the Minges-Overton Baseball Complex behind Pitt Community College. A fifth game, if necessary, is scheduled for Saturday at Mount Olive. Both contests start at 7 p.m.

Wayne County leads the series 2-1.

"Nobody's going to win a game with three hits," said Post 11 coach Brad Reaves. "We hit that guy's pitch all night long. Every time he wanted us to hit it, we hit it right where he wanted it."

"You've got to give him credit."

The lanky Hardee used a smooth delivery to keep Wayne County's batters baffled throughout the two-hour affair. He allowed seven base runners and retired 17 of the final 19 batters he faced over a span of five-plus innings.

Hardee threw 118 pitches, but just 68 strikes. However, Post 11's batters never worked the Post 39 hurler into a deep count and forced just three full counts overall.

"(Hardee) was in complete control," said Reaves. "We had him deep in his pitch count, but we go up in the seventh inning and swing at two first pitches. We were hoping we'd get him on out of the game."

Hardee threw a perfect seventh and eighth inning, and sent 10 consecutive Wayne County batters back to the dugout until Zach Wright's two-out, ninth-inning single. Wright, an East Carolina signee, reached base on a second-inning walk and was hit by Hardee in the fourth.

Walker Gourley cranked a two-out single in the third and John Wooten belted a one-out double in the sixth. Neither runner scored as Post 11 also stranded the go-ahead run at third base in the fourth inning.

"We've got to swing it better than that," said Reaves. "I don't think we had the greatest approaches at-bat, but he threw it where he was looking. When you throw it where you're looking, you usually win.

"He isn't ready to go home yet (for the summer)."

Trailing 1-0 after five innings, Hardee got the run support he needed in the sixth. Clark Massey smashed a lead-off triple onto the warning track in center field and scored on Andrew Cain's two-strike double in nearly the same spot.

"(Massey's) hit was right at Nolan (Lancaster) and that's a hard play to make," said Reaves. "He broke in and the ball just kept rising. We've been doing a pretty good job of keeping that guy off the bases and he hadn't hurt us a lot until tonight."

Cain scored on Daniel Boyd's single for a 2-1 lead.

Pitt County (16-8) added a seventh-inning run on a two-out passed ball and Massey crushed a two-run homer in the ninth.

"I don't think we came out with any intensity ... that fire in our bellies to just put them away and be done with it," said Reaves. "I thought it was going to be a long series ... good series because they've got a good team. I didn't think we'd just walk right over them."

Wayne County fell to 18-5 overall.