06/26/09 — Lifeless Wayne County drops South Division finale, 7-5

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Lifeless Wayne County drops South Division finale, 7-5

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on June 26, 2009 1:46 PM

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New Bern\'s Matt Hardeman, right, steals second base as Wayne County shortstop Tyler Edwards, left, fields a throw to the left side of the bag during early-inning action on Thursday, June 25, 2009 at Scarborough Field in Mount Olive. Hardeman had two hits, two RBI and two stolen bases.

MOUNT OLIVE -- Long-time nemesis New Bern Post 24 capitalized on a mistake-filled ninth inning and ended Wayne County Post 11's division-title aspirations Thursday evening.

Locked in a 5-5 stalemate, New Bern manufactured two runs off three hits, a stolen base and throwing error in a 7-5 victory at Scarborough Field. The win kept Post 24 in contention for the Area I East South crown, while Post 11 suffered its third division loss of the season.

Wayne County (8-5 overall) could claim the second spot for the upcoming playoffs if New Bern loses to Kinston today. Post 11 holds the head-to-head and run-differential tiebreakers.

"I don't like to lose, but I just told our guys I know we're not playing with Wayne County enthusiasm," said Wayne County manager Brad Reaves. "We're going through the motions a little bit ... disappointed with our enthusiasm, not our effort. We don't have anything to feed off of because we're just so lifeless."

Post 11 pushed across one run in each of the first three innings, but hardly challenged Post 24 hurler Gabe Brown. The right-hander threw 15 pitches or less in six of his 82/3 innings on the mound, and scattered eight hits.

"We didn't make him work," said Reaves of Brown. "I thought we took too many fastballs early in the count and we've done that all year. We get too deep in counts and there are other times where we're too early in counts.

"If I'm a catcher and I see guys swinging real early all the time, I'm going to change them up early and they did that to us. (Brown) kept the ball down and we had opportunities, but just didn't capitalize."

Wayne County stranded 11 base runners, including five in scoring position.

New Bern (8-2) missed scoring chances in the first two innings, but finally scratched in the third on Shawn Armstrong's two-out single. One inning later, Matt Hardeman supplied a two-RBI single and tied the contest at 3-3.

Post 11 kept the inning alive with an infield error.

"Matt Hardeman ... I can't remember a time we've gotten him out in four years," said Reaves. "I told them this guy doesn't need anything to hit and we've got (second) base open. He drives in two runs and we pop up the next guy.

"To me, that was the absolute key (to the loss)."

New Bern pushed ahead 5-3 before Wayne County tied the game in the eighth inning. A walk and infield error set the table for Robert Faucette, who stroked a pinch-hit, two-RBI double to deep center field.

Post 24 came back in the ninth and cranked out back-to-back singles against Post 11 reliever Zack Mozingo. After a strikeout, Chris Dorman hit a high infield fly that dropped between three Wayne County defenders behind the pitcher's mound.

One run scored. With two outs, Post 11 committed a costly infield error that provided the visitors with a two-run cushion. Wayne County threatened in the ninth with two outs, but Armstrong -- in relief of Brown -- earned the save with a harmless pop-up in shallow left field.

"There's two seasons and we're in the playoffs ... almost done with the first season," said Reaves. "Kids feed on excitement and you have to get excited about playing, and right now we're not excited about playing. I don't know if we're laid back and waiting for the playoffs, or what.

"We don't have that burning desire ... just lifeless everywhere we go."

Post 11 concludes regular-season play at home Saturday against Ahoskie. The doubleheader begins at 3 p.m.