07/23/11 — Wayne County drops opener to Rowan County

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Wayne County drops opener to Rowan County

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on July 23, 2011 11:35 PM

MOREHEAD CITY -- The nagging Achilles' heel.

One tough-luck pitch.

No timely hits.

Nine punchouts.

Now, Wayne County Post 11 is fighting to keep its season alive each time it steps onto Puck O'Neal Field inside Big Rock Stadium on the Crystal Coast.

Two critical errors and Will Sapp's two-run blast propelled Rowan County Post 342 to a 6-4 triumph during opening-round play of the 2011 N.C. Senior American Legion state baseball tournament on a balmy, breezy Friday afternoon.

Post 11 faced Hickory in an elimination game Saturday morning.

"We had our chances ... guess you can say they played better than us today," said Wayne County head coach Rob Watt. "They got timely hits and they were better than we were defensively."

Half of Rowan's runs were unearned.

But none proved more costly than the two seventh-inning miscues after Wayne County had seized a 3-1 lead on Kevin Wise's solo home run and Adron Hollowell's run-scoring triple. Wise belted his third round-tripper of the season, while Hollowell continued to keep the team lead in hits (39).

Andrew Austin pulled Rowan within 3-2 on an RBI single. Post 11 relinquished the equalizing run on a fielder's choice throwing error, and an outfield error plated the go-ahead run.

"We could have stopped them from getting the runs toward the end (of the game), but we didn't play very good defense in some spots," said Watt, whose team has permitted 88 unearned runs on 74 errors this season.

Wayne County (25-6 overall) knotted the game at 4-4 on Cody Davis' RBI single -- the team's only hit with a runner in scoring position on the day -- in the eighth inning. Post 11 stranded seven runners, including four at either second or third base.

"The bigger concern was we had guys in scoring position with less than two outs," said Watt. "(Nine strikeouts) is very uncharacteristic of us, for sure, with the way we've swung the bat recently. We looked like we were going to get a chance in some spots, but just couldn't get the timely hit when we needed it."

Rowan did.

Sapps zapped the comeback energy with a two-run shot off Wayne County reliever Aaron Champion, who replaced starter Cameron Taylor. Taylor earned a no-decision after pitching six-plus innings and allowing four runs (one earned) on nine hits to go with three strikeouts.

Champion dropped to 2-2 on the mound.

Wayne County logged seven hits against five Post 342 hurlers. Hollowell and Jon Taylor, who ripped a solo homer in the fourth, contributed two hits apiece. Wise, Davis and lead-off batter Tyler Farmer each supplied one hit.