BASEBALL 1

Wayne County’s Logan Merritt connects with the ball as he looks to get on base.

WINTERVILLE — Wayne Post 11 defeated Pitt County Post 39 in a game that took eight innings to decide a winner.

Wayne County was the first team to score in a game in which both teams seemed to be able to score at will.

The first score came from Braedon Collins who stole home following Davis Albert being walked to first base. The next run for Post 11 came when Albert scored on an RBI groundout from Campbell Cunningham which gave Wayne County a 2-0 lead.

In the bottom of the second inning, Pitt County answered back by scoring four runs to take the lead.

The first three runs in the inning for Post 39 all came from RBI singles with bases loaded, which allowed them to take a 3-2 lead. Pitt County’s fourth run of the inning came from a sac fly that allowed the runner to come home from third base.

In a game that was full of momentum swings, Wayne County answered back in the top of third inning after trailing 2-4.

After loading the bases with just one out, Logan Merritt hit an RBI single to cut the lead to just one. The next score came from Justin Holland who tied the game up when he scored from third base on wild pitch.

The last two runs of the inning came from Collins who hit a two-RBI single to give Wayne County a 6-4 lead.

Wayne County kept the momentum going after taking the lead in the third inning and by the bottom of the seventh inning, they led 11-8, just three outs away from claiming the Area 1 East Division Regular-Season title.

Pitt County once again had success at the plate and with runners at first and third base, Danny Saddler hit a two-RBI double to cut the lead to just one run. Following the double, two more runners got on base with back-to-back walks. With the bases loaded with one out and only a one-run lead, Wayne County brought on Anderson Clucas to save the game.

The first batter Clucas faced hit an RBI sacrifice fly to tie the game at 11-11. That meant that with two outs there were runners on first and second base, which gave Post 39 a great opportunity to win the game. Clucas, however, came up clutch in the big moment and was able to strike out the Pitt County batter to send the game to extra innings.

Holland came up to bat first for Wayne County in the eighth inning and on the very first pitch, he crushed the ball and sent it sailing over the outfield wall for a home run to give Wayne County a 12-11 lead.

Albert Davis was able to extend the lead further in the top of the eighth with an RBI single.

Clucas stayed in the game and was tasked with getting three outs in the bottom of the eighth inning. The closer was able to get the first out by forcing a groundout.

After walking the next batter, Clucas was able to get the second out by striking out the Pitt County batter.

The next batter for Pitt County was able to get a single, and a throwing error to first base led to the Pitt County batters advancing to second and third base.

The next batter up for Pitt County was Saddler who had a big hit in the seventh inning, which cut the lead for Wayne County to just one run. Saddler once again delivered for Pitt County by hitting an RBI single to cut the Wayne County lead to just one. With runners on first and third base, the game-winning run once again came up to the plate for Pitt County. Just like in the seventh inning, Clucas came up clutch for Wayne County by forcing the Pitt County batter to hit a pop up into the outfield to end the game.

Wayne County Post 11 head coach Adam Pate said he was proud of the way his team played in the game’s biggest moments.

“When you get in a game like this with two good teams battling it out, you love to see your team respond, and man if we didn’t respond,” Pate said. “We lost the lead but got it right back.”

Clucas, who kept Wayne County alive in the seventh inning and then closed the game in the eighth inning, said that he was a little bit nervous after coming on with the bases loaded, but he trusted in his ability to get the key outs.

“I was a little nervous, but I know what I can do, and I know that if I go up (to the mound) and throw strikes, I will be all right,” Clucas said.

Another key player in the title-clinching win was Collins who went four for four during the game.

With the win, Wayne County improves to 18-4 for the season. Post 11 will play its final game of the regular season against Wilson Post 13 on Thursday on the Rosewood High School baseball field.