07/23/11 — Wayne County eliminates Hickory

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Wayne County eliminates Hickory

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

MOREHEAD CITY -- Wayne County Post 11 flexed its offensive muscle and Hickory Post 48 splintered under the pressure Saturday morning.

Nick McGee and Adron Hollowell each swatted a home run in a 14-0, mercy-rule triumph on day two of the 2011 N.C. Senior American Legion state baseball tournament.

Wayne County (26-6 overall) plays either High Point or perennial power Cherryville in elimination-round play today. First pitch is 4:30 p.m. at Puck O'Neal Field inside Big Rock Stadium.

"We could have used some of those hits yesterday (Friday) and we'd be in a better situation right now," grinned Post 11 head coach Rob Watt. "The guys bounced back. It's a do-or-die situation from here on out."

McGee and Hollowell spearheaded a 14-hit parade that included two doubles from Kevin Wise (five RBI) and third baseman Tyler Ruffin, who tripled in a season-best 4-for-4 performance. Zach Grantham supplied three hits.

Post 48 right-hander Jeremy Null, who signed a national letter-of-intent with Western Carolina, retired six of the first seven batters he faced on hard-hit ground balls. First baseman Tyler Poole logged all six putouts before Wayne County erupted in the third inning.

"We went in there and had a better pitch selection, didn't try to do too much today," said Watt. "We hit into hard outs, and that sent a message to these guys to keep the same approach (at the plate) and things will start to go our way."

Boy, did they.

Grantham's lead-off single and Tyler Gainey's fielder's choice grounder bouyed Post 11's confidence in the third inning. Null loaded the bases on consecutive walks to Tyler Farmer and Cody Davis, which set the table for Wise's bases-clearing double.

Jon Taylor plated Wise with a base knock. Ruffin cranked out a two-out single and both runners scored on McGee's field-clearing, two-strike blast that easily sailed over the left-field fence.

Wayne County led 7-0.

Post 11 tallied seven runs over the next three innings and handed Hickory (20-13) its third shutout loss of the season. Watt's team also chased another WCU signee, Jacob Hoyle, from the mound during its five-run, fifth-inning uprising.

"There was disappointment (from Friday)," said Wayne County hurler Jordan Quinn. "We messed it up ... choked one away."

Not this time.

Quinn threw an efficient 67 pitches in a five-inning, permitted six hits and logged four strikeouts. The left-hander retired eight of 10 Hickory hitters during one stretch and threw 11 first-pitch strikes to 20 batters he faced.

A rising sophomore at Southeastern Community College, Quinn (7-1) recorded the putout on a pick-off play in the third inning, and escaped a bases-loaded jam in the fifth on two strikeouts and a fielder's choice groundout.

"I just tried to keep my team in it, compete every inning," said Quinn. "(The) change-up is usually my out pitch, but they're actually really good on the curveballs. I tried to throw it in the dirt and get them to chase them, usually how I get them (out).

"I've never thrown real hard, so you learn to pitch and can't let one hit get in your head. You buckle back down, go back to work and try to shake it off."

Zach Beachem threw a perfect sixth. Jeremy Taylor preserved the seven-inning white-washing with a game-ending, double-play groundout.

Wayne County is 3-0 all-time against Hickory and is 10-11 in state-tournament action since Legion officials switched to a single-site, double-elimination format in 2000.

"We blew one to Kinston a while back, came back strong and didn't drop another one," said Quinn. "We know we're good enough and capable of it (winning the state). It's a long road, but we're willing to take it, make it fun and make it a good summer."