It didn’t take long for Wayne County Post 11’s bats to wake up Tuesday evening.
Clay Matthews first-inning, leadoff blast ignited the offense, and Post 11 held off multiple attempted rallies to topple Pitt Post 39 in game one of the Area I East Division playoffs.
Matthews swatted his third homer this summer, and Wayne County won its 11th game in a row.
“It’s great to get the first win,” Wayne County Post 11 head coach Adam Pate said. “To get the second one will be better, and to get the third one will be best.”
Seven of nine Post 11 starters contributed at least one hit in the seven-inning battle. Matthews, the leadoff batter in the order, finished 3-3 with a home run, three stolen bases, two singles, two RBIs and scored two runs.
Will Uzzell (RBI) batted 3-4 with three singles and an RBI, Case Kermode (RBI) and Logan Price cranked out two hits apiece. Christian Yarbrough, Tanner Capps and Logan Merritt all had one hit in the game.
Matthews homered to spark a four-run first-inning outburst for Post 11, who quickly built up a 6-0 lead in the first two innings.
“What Clay Matthews did and scoring four runs in the first inning, that’s immeasurable in a playoff game,” Pate said.
Post 11 starter Blake Gipson permitted eight hits in a four-and-one-third-inning stint. The right-hander worked through a shaky third inning and finished with four strikeouts – and three walks.
With two outs on the board, Post 39 touched Gipson for two third-inning runs on four base hits. Gipson retired Ryker Galaska to get Post 11 out of the inning and forced the visitors to strand a runner in scoring position.
In the bottom half of the third, Kermode and Matthews both knocked in RBI singles to push Post 11’s lead up to 8-2.
Later in the top of the fourth inning, Pitt made it an 8-3 game, thanks to Christopher Hunter’s RBI-double.
Post 11 ran into some more trouble in the top of the fifth inning.
Anthony Saieed hit an RBI-groundout to cut Post 11’s lead down to 8-4. After Gipson walked Shea Ward, Wesley Case came in to relive Gipson. With the bases loaded, Case struck out Grant Charles Jarman and Cam Jackson was ruled out because of interference.
In the top of the sixth inning, with one out and two runners on base, Will Harris came into the game and got Shane Rademacher to hit into a double play, and once again put a stop to Post 39’s momentum.
“They made their runs,” Pate said. “Fortunately, we had some big plays to get out of them. The double play when Will Harris came in relief of Wesley Case, that’s huge, but Wesley Case coming in relief of Blake Gipson was huge.
“You can’t put a value on two bullpen arms doing their jobs, and our starter did a great too, defensively and I was very pleased, and on the mound, I thought we looked great.”
Harris also earned the save when he threw a scoreless seventh.
Hunter, Rademacher, Jackson and Galaska paced the Post 39 attack with an RBI apiece.