Storm washes out possible DH, Pitt County awarded title
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on July 25, 2012 1:46 PM
DUDLEY -- Wayne County Post 11 certainly didn't expect this surreal ending.
A late-afternoon thunderstorm canceled a possible doubleheader in the Area I East championship series, and washed away Post 11's aspirations of extending its season at least one more day.
Instead, Pitt County Post 39, which owned a 2-0 advantage in the best-of-five series, was awarded its first Area I East title since 2006 and punched its ticket to the 2012 N.C. Senior American Legion state tournament.
The Post 11 coaching staff and co-athletic officer Danny Mozingo pleaded with Area I commissioner Bob Figulski to allow the teams to play a twinbill today and a fifth game, if necessary, on Thursday. Figulski remained steadfast in his decision and said the timeline couldn't be altered to determine the eight state-tournament qualifiers.
The double-elimination state tournament kicks off next Wednesday in Lenoir. Pitt County (17-5) faces Apex in the meaningless Area I finals, which begin Friday and just determines the higher seed for the state tournament.
"It's unfortunate that the winner is not being determined on the field, but by a technicality," Wayne County assistant coach Jackson Massey said. "You want to give the kids a chance to play five games and (possibly) win (the series). Why they're so set for not playing on Thursday, I don't know.
"It's a shame, but we can't do much about it now."
The teams strolled toward the football fieldhouse as lightning strikes illuminated the darkening skies at the Doyle Whitfield Athletic Complex. Within 45 minutes, a drenching rain bolstered by gusty winds rendered field conditions unplayable for the second straight day.
Once the storm subsided, the coaches and Mozingo surveyed the damage. Water covered the infield and a majority of the outfield. The trio called other coaches to see if their facilities were available, but they all suffered the same fate, too, as the line of thunderstorms moved through eastern North Carolina.
Post 11 players either stood outside the dugout or walked around the water-logged field as they awaited their fate.
"It was like it was stripped off of our back," Wayne County shortstop Cameron Taylor said. "The commissioner didn't give us an opportunity to play the game. We beat that team three times this season and I think we could have done it (again).
"I thought I was going to suit up one more time and that my career would end on the field. I hate the weather did this to us. There is no finality to it."
Taylor has aged out along with Taylor Brock, Austin Hinton, Jeremy Taylor and Will Winslow. Collin DuBose and Hunter Barnett, who have both signed with Mount Olive College, are ineligible to play for Post 11 next season due to NCAA rules. Sherrer is an assistant coach at MOC and is not permitted to coach his own players in summer ball.
Wayne County logged a 17-9 worksheet despite losing 10 players off of last year's team that reached the N.C. Senior American Legion state championship game. Seven returned, but only one -- Tyler Gainey -- had any infield experience.
The rest were mainly pitchers, including Taylor.
"Having all those holes to fill, I think we filled them pretty well," Taylor said. "I think we exceeded a lot of peoples' expectations because many people didn't give us a chance. It would have been nice to go up to Lenoir and see how we stack up against those teams from the bigger cities.
"I'd give our guys a shot against anybody."
Post 11 started slow and labored through some outings due to inconsistent play. But the team triumphed in 14 of its final 20 games and shared the Area I East South Division title with Pitt County.
Wayne County advanced to the Area I East championship series for the 14th time since 1994.
"This was probably the best group of guys as far as how many different (high school) teams we pulled from this year," Massey said. "We didn't know what to expect because we lost a lot of guys from last year. We started out slow, but when conference play started, we got rolling a little bit.
"We didn't give up and to beat us you had to play nine innings."