Area I East Semifinals: Game 1 -- Barbour's grand slam turns tide in Post 11's favor
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on July 18, 2012 1:48 PM
By RUDY COGGINS
News-Argus Sports Editor
DUDLEY -- One swing of the bat turned the tide in favor of Wayne County Post 11 and sucked the life right out of nemesis Kinston Post 43 on Monday evening.
Justin Barbour mashed a sixth-inning grand slam home run -- the first of his Senior Legion career -- that ignited an improbable, come-from-behind 18-9 victory in Game 1 of the Area I East semifinals at the Doyle Whitfield Athletic Complex.
Game 2 in the best-of-three series is today at Kinston. First pitch is 7 p.m.
"We came out a little flat, I think," Post 11 assistant coach Jackson Massey said.
In fact, Wayne County (16-6 overall) couldn't buy a break through five-plus innings against Kinston. Right-hander Eddie Hawkins permitted just one unearned run on two hits and induced Post 43 into three rally-killing double plays.
Kinston (12-6) connected on several seeing-eye hits that barely dropped behind Wayne County defenders, and gave Hawkins a seemingly comfortable 6-1 cushion.
But the right-hander, through no fault of his own, couldn't preserve the multi-run lead. A tongue lashing from Massey woke up Post 11 in the bottom of the sixth inning and a two-out throwing error on a routine ground ball -- which led to three runs -- further fueled the fire for the defending Area I champions.
With Tyler Gainey aboard on the defensive blunder, Hawkins walked Will Winslow on four consecutive pitches and plunked Duane Gurganus to juice the bases for Barbour.
One pitch later, the dugout cleared as Barbour trotted around the bases after his towering shot cleared the left center-field fence. Barbour became the sixth Wayne County player to homer this season.
"(Post 11 head coach Jason) Sherrer called time and called me over, told me to look for that first pitch and let's jump on it," a grinning Barbour said. "Credit Sherrer for that one. It just happened so fast.
"It was a dagger, I believe."
Wayne County kept rolling.
Post 11 sent 31 batters to the plate in the final three innings combined, collected 11 hits and plated 17 runs against a Post 43 bullpen that labored to find the strike zone.
"We shouldn't have to get the guys up when we're in the second round of the playoffs," Massey said. "Once we relaxed a little bit and started going station to station, we put together some big innings."
Gurganus replaced starter Collin DuBose and provided four innings of three-hit, four-strikeout relief. Post 43 clean-up batter Brian Hardy swatted a harmless three-run homer in the eighth inning to cap Post 43's scoring.
DuBose worked five innings and yielded six runs (four earned) on nine hits.
"Duane did a good job coming in for relief and kept us in the ballgame," Massey said.
Eight of nine starters recorded at least one hit for Post 11, which seized its 10th consecutive postseason victory against an Area I East opponent. Barbour finished 2-for-4 with a career-best six RBI. Jacob Sasser batted 3-for-4 with a double, while Barnett and lead-off batter Cameron Taylor, who ended an 0-for-10 playoff slump, contributed two hits and two RBI apiece.
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- Wayne County Post 11-Kinston box (Game 1)