By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on July 26, 2011 1:47 PM
MOREHEAD CITY -- Wayne County Post 11's resilient attitude and blue-collar effort proved critical on a blustery Monday afternoon on the Crystal Coast.
Kevin Wise mashed the go-ahead home run and Cody Davis supplied a much-needed insurance double in an 8-6, elimination-round triumph over Wilmington Post 10 at Big Rock Stadium.
Two momentum-killing double plays and three errors didn't derail Post 11's ride to today's N.C. Senior American Legion state tournament championship game against perennial power Cherryville Post 39. First pitch is 3 p.m. on the Puck O'Neal Field diamond.
Wayne County (28-6 overall) must defeat Cherryville (30-7) twice to earn the automatic bid to the Southeast Regional in Sumter, S.C.
Adron Hollowell's shoe-top catch, Jordan Quinn's superb pitching effort on one day's rest, Cameron Taylor's cool demeanor and clutch offense helped propel Post 11 into its first state-title game appearance since 2007.
"(We showed resilience) from inning one to inning nine, no doubt about it," said Wayne County head coach Rob Watt. "The best part of it was the (third-inning) grand slam didn't bother Jordan at all. He had confidence in his offense and knew if he kept us there, we'd have a chance.
"He kept filling it up ... didn't wilt or turtle. I think as good as Cameron (Taylor) was in the last inning and as huge as that was, I don't think it should overshadow the great job Jordan did today."
Quinn permitted six runs (five earned) on nine hits and logged three strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings. Derek Limbaugh provided 1 1/3 innings of two-strikeout relief, and departed with no outs and runners on second and third.
Taylor yielded a single to Ryan LaGrange, who won the Home Run Derby crown during opening-night ceremonies, which loaded the sacks for designated hitter Tyler Kosh.
The Hoggard standout stroked a line shot into left field that Hollowell caught on the run at his feet. Taylor induced a fielder's choice groundout and coaxed Hunter Sutton into a game-ending flyout in center field.
Wilmington, the three-time defending Area II champion, seized a 5-2 lead on Chance Shepard's grand slam shot. Nick McGee answered with a wind-aided, three-run smash of his own that put Wayne County back in front, 6-5, in the bottom of the third.
McGee's homer, his second of the tournament, occurred after Wise lined into a double play.
"We were kind of down because Kevin hit into a line drive that doubled us up, but after we got two on, that was huge," said Post 11 shortstop Cody Davis of McGee's round-tripper. "That really lifted us up."
Post 10 forged a 6-6 tie in the sixth before Wise ripped a lead-off, solo homer to start the seventh. It was Wise's fourth home run of the season and boosted his team-leading RBI total to 32.
"The at-bat before (the home run), I had struck out on (an) offspeed (pitch)," said Wise. "I was going to make the adjustment to lay off the curveballs and the first fastball inside, I was going to hit it. That's what I did."
Wilmington (29-7) committed a costly running error in the eighth with the bases loaded, and Davis came through with his clutch hit in his next at-bat. With two outs, he doubled into the gap and plated courtesy runner Hunter Barnett, who had replaced designated hitter Zach Grantham (3-for-4, RBI) earlier in the inning.
"I was trying to get something on the ground, beat it out and get a hit," said Davis. "You never feel comfortable with a one-run lead, so I tried to do whatever I could."
Davis, Wise, McGee and Jonathan Taylor each finished with two hits on the day. Tyler Ruffin (RBI) and Tyler Gainey (RBI) each batted 1-for-4. Wayne County collected six extra-base knocks and struck out just three times in 34 official plate appearances.
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