07/25/11 — Wayne County-High Point

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Wayne County-High Point

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on July 25, 2011 1:47 PM

MOREHEAD CITY -- Stayin' alive.

Wayne County Post 11 overcame three errors and dispatched High Point, 11-7, during consolation-round play in the 2011 N.C. Senior American Legion baseball tournament Sunday afternoon.

Post 11 faces Wilmington Post 10 in elimination play today. First pitch is 3 p.m. at Puck O'Neal Field inside Big Rock Stadium on the Crystal Coast.

"We kept it together and eliminated the big inning, which was huge for us," said Wayne County coach Rob Watt. "Throughout the year, anytime we've made an error, it's hurt us, but the guys didn't fall apart ... kept their heads up and knew we just had to keep making the next out.

"We held them to ones and twos (runs in an inning), and our offense took care of business."

No kidding.

Wayne County (27-6 overall) sent 10 hitters to the plate and scratched out a 5-0 advantage against High Point right-hander Justin Morrison during its first at-bat. Adron Hollowell (2-for-4), Tyler Ruffin (3-for-5), Zach Grantham and No. 9 batter Tyler Gainey (2-for-4) each delivered an RBI hit during the outburst.

Post 11 batted 6-for-8 with runners in scoring position.

"Huge," said Watt. "It's huge for the defense and huge for the pitcher because he doesn't feel like he has to go out there and throw darts, doesn't have to punch everybody out.

"With a five-run spot, the defense can relax a little bit ... feel a little bit confident and not think that they have to make every play perfect. It's not a cushion, but you put yourself in a good state (of mind)."

High Point (22-10) pecked away at the lead against Wayne County right-hander Collin DuBose in his state-tournament debut. DuBose (3-0) gave up single runs as the Hi-Toms closed the gap to 7-4, but got some much-needed help in the seventh.

Kevin Wise got plunked by a pitch and trotted home on Hollowell's one-strike, tape-measure homer that cleared the right-field fence by at least 25 feet during the sixth inning. It was Hollowell's second homer of the tournament and he finished the day with three RBI.

"That hit right there changed the game, for sure," said Watt. "Adron was hurt at Louisburg and didn't have any live action when he came to us ... was a little out of sorts at the start of the season. This past month, he's just been on fire.

"They felt like they had the momentum and all of a sudden that ball leaves the yard, and it's a bigger mountain to climb for them. He's been great all tournament long."

Nick McGee and Gainey each supplied an RBI hit to extend Wayne County's lead to 11-4. High Point climbed to within 11-7 before bullpen mates Aaron Champion and Derek Limbaugh shut the door. Champion allowed one run, while Limbaugh tossed 1 2/3 innings of no-hit, one-strikeout relief to earn the save.

DuBose permitted six runs (four earned) on six hits and logged three strikeouts during his 102-pitch, seven-inning stint.

"Collin pitched great, was around the zone and got the big outs when he could," said Watt. "Champ came in and had hard luck again, but got the out that we needed. He's got guts.

"Derek did an outstanding job shutting them down."

Wayne County (27-6 overall) cranked out 15 hits and scored in double digits for the second straight outing. Eight of nine Post 11 starters had at least one hit in the 2-hour, 36-minute contest.