Wayne County Post 11 defeated Pitt County Post 39 by a score of 6-5 in the second round of the Legion Baseball Regional Playoffs on Tuesday night, in a game that came down to the final play of the seventh inning.
Wayne County started off by taking an early 1-0 lead in the first inning. The run came from Justin Holland who scored off an RBI single hit by Drew Spencer. Following a strong top of the second inning where pitcher Will Pennington did not allow a single run, the Post 11 offense scored again in the second inning to expand their lead to 2-0. The run in the second inning came from Campbell Cunningham who scored off an RBI single from Austin Booth.
Pennington quickly picked up where he left off in the previous inning by earning two outs while allowing just one runner on at first base. The starting pitcher, however, proceeded to allow a single and a walk to load the bases.
With the bases loaded, Pennington could still get out of the inning with no runs allowed with just one more out. Pennington was unable to get the crucial out though, and both of the next batters were able to hit singles. The first single cut the Wayne County lead to just one, and the second was a two-RBI single that gave Pitt County a 3-2 lead.
With two outs in the top of the third inning, Will Harris was brought in to replace Pennington. Harris was able to earn the third out of the inning when he forced the Pitt County batter to hit a fly ball into the outfield.
Pitt County remained ahead in the game after taking a 3-2 lead until the bottom of the fifth inning when Post 11 regained the lead at 5-4 with a two-RBI single from Braedon Collins with the bases loaded that scored Will Albert and Cunningham. Pitt County quickly answered back in the sixth inning though, and they tied the game at 5-5 with a home run that came from Cole Watkins in the top of the sixth inning.
With the game tied, Wayne County was unable to score in the bottom of the sixth inning, and Pitt County was unable to score in the top of the seventh inning. That meant that Wayne County could end the game by scoring just a single run in the bottom of the seventh inning. With one out in the inning, Holland was able to connect with the ball and drive it deep into center field for the double.
The next batter up for Post 11 was Drew Spencer who Post 39 walked in order to set up a possible double play with only one out. That decision to walk Spencer did not work out for Post 39; however, the next batter up was Logan Merritt who, with the count at 1-2, was able to score the game-winning run with a walk-off single.
Wayne County head coach Adam Pate said he was proud of the way his team battled back after falling behind in the game.
“I’m proud of them, man,” Pate said. “We overcame adversity, we came from behind after losing the lead, but just like we’ve done all year, we kept battling.”
Merritt, who hit the walk-off single to win the game for Post 11, said he was nervous when he stepped up to the plate, but he trusted in his ability to hit the ball in play.
“I was definitely a little nervous, but the nerves ended up helping because I was alert and ready,” Merritt said. “I thought anything close (I am going to swing at). The last thing I was going to do was strike out.”
With the win, Wayne County Post improves to 21-4 this season (including playoffs). Post 11 plays again Friday night, and with a win will advance to the State Legion Baseball Playoffs.