07/22/08 — Post 11 ready for New Bern

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Post 11 ready for New Bern

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on July 22, 2008 1:49 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Wayne County Post 11 head coach Brad Reaves had a short and simple message for his team at their final practice before today's Area I East Divsion championship series gets underway.

"You are three wins away from reaching your goal," said Reaves to his team. "If we come to play, with our heads on straight, we can be successful."

Post 11 plays host to South Division rival New Bern Post 24 for game one in the best-of-five series. First pitch is 7 p.m. at Scarborough Field on the Mount Olive College campus.

It's a rematch of last year's finals won by Wayne County.

"There is no need for a big motivational speech at this point," said Reaves. "We have seen these guys before, and this year they have won both regular-season games. I think we are ready to play ... I hope we are.

"We had a good workout today. The guys looked relaxed and ready to get started."

New Bern has a similar playing style to Post 11, but a different management strategy. Each team has out-scored its respective opponents throughout the season and used their pitching staffs in opposite ways.

Reaves keeps a close eye on innings pitched and splits up games among two or more hurlers. Meanwhile, Post 24 has gotten five complete-game efforts -- all wins -- from its staff during the postseason.

"That's not the way we choose to do things," said Reaves. "Last year we had a couple guys that were capable of going nine innings, but this year our guys are better suited to pitch six or seven."

Michael Douglas, a right-hander from Southern Wayne, gets the nod for tonight's game. Douglas (5-2) has thrown a team-leading 47 innings and allowed 36 runs.

And if he gets in trouble, a fresh bullpen should provide relief.

"We would love to get another day off for Jesse Randolph and Jay Rose, but everyone else is available," said Reaves. "If Michael can go five or six, keep us in the game or ahead, and hand the ball off that would be a good outing."

The Post 11 offensive lineup will be much the same as it has been the last two playoff series. Walker Gourley has powered the Wayne County offense to the tune of a .429 batting average over the summer. John Wooten, Zach Wright and Nolan Lancaster have provided the pop in the middle of the order. The trio has combined for 19 home runs and 65 RBI.

"We knew that we could score coming into the year, and that's been our key," said Reaves. "I am very proud of these guys for making it this far, and hopefully we will play our best and find a way to keep going."

Wayne County (19-5) is making its 12th appearance in the Area I East finals in the last 15 years.