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Area I East Semifinals: Game 2 -- Kinston turns back Post 11, evens series at 1-all

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on July 18, 2012 1:48 PM

KINSTON -- South Division rivals Wayne County Post 11 and Kinston Post 43 face the same dilemma -- it's a one-game season -- when they square off again tonight at the Doyle Whitfield Athletic Complex.

And the stakes couldn't be higher.

Kinston forced the "winner-take-all" affair with a come-from-behind, 5-4 triumph at Viking Field, and evened the best-of-three Area I East semifinal series at 1-all. The loss halted Wayne County's 10-game win streak against Area I East opposition in postseason play since 2011.

Tonight's winner faces Pitt County Post 39, which eliminated preseason favorite Rocky Mount Post 58, in the championship series. Game 1 in the best-of-five set is at the higher seed on Friday.

"We're back to square one," Post 11 assistant coach Jackson Massey. "We're 0-0. We win, we advance. We lose, we go home. I just told the guys that we can't sit here and dwell on tonight, we've got come out and focus on tomorrow.

"(We) need to give it all we've got."

Wayne County (16-7 overall) seized an early three-run advantage through 1 1/2 innings, but failed to keep the pressure on Kinston. Zack Mozingo and Tyler Gainey connected on back-to-back RBI singles in the first inning. Mozingo (3-for-5, two RBI) provided an RBI base knock in the second.

Post 11 didn't threaten again.

Kinston right-hander Matt Hinson retired 15 of the next 19 batters he faced and Wayne County's season-long inability to score with runners on base reared its ugly head again. Post 11 batted 0-for-9 with men at either second or third base after the second inning, and finished 3-for-15 for the game.

"Hinson got in a groove, would a lot of times fall behind in the count and work his way back in," Massey said. "That had a lot to do with us swinging at pitches that weren't our pitches (to hit). We fell short when we had that big inning ... kind of coasted after the first couple of innings.

"Their pitchers have been keeping us off balance pretty much the whole season."

Kinston (13-6) answered during its second at-bat.

Post 11 southpaw Hunter Barnett, who hadn't thrown in 11 days, permitted eight of nine batters to reach base in the second inning. Two physical errors, a mental miscue and Josh Harris' two-RBI single helped Post 43 move ahead, 4-3.

"We had a few things not go our way, they put the pressure on us and executed," Massey said.

Harris plated Kinston's fifth run on a sixth-inning RBI fielder's choice.

Wayne County coaxed Post 43 catcher Lance Murray into a poor throw on a seventh-inning double steal that closed the margin to 5-4. Tyler Gainey, who reached on an infield error, scored on the play. Justin Barbour, who also reached on an infield error, was stranded at second base.