Road Survival: Post 11 seizes series lead
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on July 30, 2008 1:35 PM
SMITHFIELD -- Clayton Post 71 staged a furious ninth-inning rally and nearly pulled off a miraculous comeback Tuesday evening.
But the cooler head prevailed.
Faced with a bases-loaded dilemma, Jay Rose delivered a game-ending strikeout as Wayne County Post 11 triumphed 9-7 at Spartan Field on the Smithfield-Selma High School campus. With the victory, Post 11 seized a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three, Area I Division championship series.
"Jay made it interesting," said Post 11 coach Brad Reaves. "That's why you keep it out of that grand-slam range at the end. That's why those runs were so big (for us) in the ninth."
John Wooten (2-for-5, two RBI) smashed his second home run of the game and 10th of the season with one out in the ninth. Rose was hit by a pitch and scored all the way from first base on Zach Wright's RBI double into the left center-field alley. Wayne County led 9-4.
The two extra runs certainly proved critical.
Rose yielded a two-run homer to Post 71 lead-off batter Drew Alford in the ninth. After an out, Clayton (18-10) loaded the sacks on two sharply-hit singles and a walk.
Colin Parker, a rising sophomore at Campbell, dumped a two-strike single into shallow right field to close the gap to 9-7. Rose induced a forceout at the plate and caught Jeff Citero watching a third strike to end the game.
"Jay was due for one of these," said Reaves.
Wayne County derailed Clayton's unbeaten run in the playoffs and can secure the Area I title at home today. Game time is 7 p.m. at Southern Wayne High School.
"I don't know that we played our best baseball ... didn't play bad," said Reaves. "We got accomplished what we wanted to get accomplished and when you look at the scoreboard, there were three innings we didn't score. I can't argue with that.
"But I don't know if we hit it like we're capable of hitting it."
However, Reaves did like his team's resiliency.
Each time Clayton put a run on the board, Wayne County responded. Post built two-run leads on two occasions and never trailed in the two-hour, 40-minute affair. Seven of nine starters recorded at least one hit and every batter reached base.
"That kind of takes the wind out of everybody's sail," said Reaves. "Any time you can come out on offense and answer them right back, that's kind of deflating a little bit ... I think. At least, it's always been the case since I've been around."
Post 71 owned a 13-11 advantage in hits, but committed seven errors which led to four unearned runs.
Wayne County right-hander Michael Douglas started and surrendered four earned runs on five hits in a four-inning stint. Jesse Randolph, in his sixth mound appearance in the playoffs, notched the win with three scoreless innings of relief.
"Michael pitched the way he needed to pitch," said Reaves. "I thought Jesse was very good with those zeroes he put up. I thought John was pretty decent and we need to give him some more work."
Wooten threw the eighth inning.
Post 11 claimed its ninth playoff win this season and 23rd overall since 2007.
"Our guys know they have a job to do. I think everybody is headed in the same direction right now," said Reaves. "We're trying to get better for next week. If we continue to do that, we'll be OK."
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