07/27/08 — Post 11 repeats as Area I East champion

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Post 11 repeats as Area I East champion

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on July 27, 2008 11:10 AM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Wayne County Post 11 has cleared one more hurdle on its long road toward redemption.

Post 11 wrapped up its second straight Area I East Division championship with a 15-1, 6 1/2-inning victory over New Bern Post 24 on Saturday evening. Wayne County earned a spot in the N.C. Senior American Legion Tournament, which begins Aug. 5 in Gastonia.

Wayne County (22-5 overall) will play either Clayton or Durham on Tuesday to determine the seeding in the eight-team state tournament. The game is tentatively scheduled for a 7 p.m. start at Southern Wayne High School.

Post 11 lost to Cherryville in last year's state finals and will make its third state tournament appearance since 2004.

"We want redemption. You want another shot at it," said Wayne County head coach Brad Reaves. "I'm tired of just getting there. Coach (Doyle) Whitfield went through it three times and this will be our third time.

"I'm ready to bring one home. It may not be our year but dang I hope it is."

Post 11 got to New Bern starting pitcher Chris Dorman for four runs in the home half of the second inning. Alex Casey and John Wooten both laced two-run singles to the outfield.

Wayne County sent 10 batters to the plate in the bottom of the fourth and pushed across five more runs. Walker Gourley and Wooten got the scoring started with RBI singles. Thomas Pilkington added a two-run single and Nolan Lancaster added an RBI infield single.

Wooten finished with four hits, five RBI and two runs scored. Casey had three hits, three RBI and four runs scored.

"We finally swung it. We finally swung it," said Reaves.

New Bern (15-11) scratched across a run on Chris Dorman's bases loaded groundout in the fifth. Post 24 was denied an additional run in the sixth when Lancaster threw out Gabe Brown at the plate from center field.

Wayne County starter Taylor Allen allowed one run on five hits with three strikeouts and two walks in six innings. Jesse Randolph worked a scoreless seventh in relief.

"Our pitching has really stepped up in the playoffs, it really has," said Reaves. "To hold New Bern to four runs in three games that's pretty spiffy. I thought Taylor worked back because he didn't get ahead of anybody.

He made some good pitches to get some ground balls. To hold New Bern to one run, I'm tickled to death."

Casey's infield single in the sixth plated Thomas Pilkington, pushing the margin to 10-1. Lancaster later scored on a double steal and Tyler Edwards' single to center scored Casey, which gave Post 11 a 12-1 lead. Wooten added an RBI single and Rose pitched in a two-run double.

Edwards, Rose, Lancaster, Gourley and Pilkington each had two hits.

Heading to Gastonia, Wayne County's biggest unanswered question may just be how much untapped potential does it have left.

"I don't know how good we can be," Reaves said. "Coming in our pitching was a problem. I know we can hit. Heck, one through 12 we've got pretty good hitters, some of them just don't play every day.

"If we'll carry these bats with us to Gastonia we'll feel pretty good about it."