07/20/08 — Area I East semifinals: Post 11 wraps up series on road

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Area I East semifinals: Post 11 wraps up series on road

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on July 20, 2008 1:32 PM

GREENVILLE -- Wayne County Post 11 is going back to the Area I East Division championship series.

Post 11 gained momentum as the game progressed and eliminated South Division rival Pitt County 39 by a 9-4 count on the Minges-Overton Baseball Complex diamond Saturday afternoon.

Wayne County (19-5 overall) opposes either New Bern or Edenton in the best-of-five championship series, which begins Tuesday at Mount Olive College. Game time is 7 p.m.

On Saturday, head coach Brad Reaves had a simple plan: get into the opponent's bullpen and expose its lack of pitching depth. Post 11's batters executed that strategy to perfection, particularly in the fourth inning.

Trailing 1-0, Walker Gourley drilled a lead-off double to right field. Two pitches later, John Wooten ripped a single to tie the game and ignite the mini rally. Wooten later scored on an RBI groundout from Cambric Moye to give Post 11 its first lead at 2-1.

"It took us a while to get it going," said Reaves. "But when we did, I was pretty confident that our guys could manufacture some runs and maybe get into their bullpen."

After starting pitcher Jesse Randolph allowed three consecutive singles and yielded the game-tying run in Pitt County's half of the fourth, Reaves faced his own pitching dilemma.

Hard-throwing left-hander Jay Rose answered the call.

A Wayne County error allowed two more runs to score before inning ended, but Rose made enough pitches to keep Post 39 from breaking the game open.

"Jay wanted to start at some point, and him and I talked about it, but in the end he said he thought he felt better about coming on in relief," said Reaves. "Tonight he came up huge for us."

Post 11 took advantage of Pitt County starter Bobby Hannon in the fifth.

Nolan Lancaster and Adron Hollowell each drew a walk. Alex Casey followed with a perfectly-placed bunt single. After a pitching change, Tyler Edwards ripped a single and plated two runs which tied the game at 4-4.

After Gourley walked, Wooten put Post 11 ahead for good with a sacrifice fly to deep center.

Lancaster tacked on a pair of insurance runs one inning later with a mammoth home run to left field into a stiff wind. The blast placed an exclamation point on the center fielder's standout effort at the plate. The Eastern Wayne graduate batted 2-for-3 with a walk, stole two bases, scored three runs and drove in three runs.

"The home run that Nolan hit was obviously big because it gave us a little breathing room," said Reaves. "He had a great game overall though, not just a home run."

Equally as impressive as Lancaster's afternoon in the batter's box was Gourley's day in the field. The second baseman was the pivot man on all four double plays turned by Post 11.

Gourley, who has verbally committed to East Carolina, showcased some leather of his own in the seventh inning by diving to his right to field a liner and promptly throw the runner out from his knees in the outfield grass.

Not knowing who his team will play in the Area I East Championship did not seem to bother Reaves after the victory.

"Well, they have to play tonight ... so I just hope it goes 14 innings," joked Reaves. "Our boys can certainly use the day off tomorrow and we will worry about Tuesday later."