GOLDSBORO - Long-time rivals on the American Legion baseball scene, the Wayne County Jets and Kinston Battleships could have easily staged an all-night affair Tuesday evening.
The teams combined for 29 hits, 15 stolen bases, five hit batsmen and 15 walks during the three-hour marathon. Each team used five pitchers and none lasted more than two innings on the bump.
Batting as the visiting team, Wayne County broke out to a 7-0 lead and squeezed out a 14-11 victory at “Gate 3” at the Eastern Carolina Athletic Park.
Earlier in the evening, the WC Jets Blue team endured a 4-0 shutout loss to opportunistic Martin County.
Jets vs. Kinston
“We should bat first every game from now on,” said Sam Rice after the Jets’ first-inning, five-run eruption.
Wayne County extended its advantage to 9-2 through 2 1/2 innings and seemed destined for its third mercy-rule outcome of the season. However, the Battleships stayed afloat and closed the gap to 9-7 after four innings.
Kinston kept the game interesting and climbed within 13-11 in the bottom of the sixth. The four-run uprising prompted Jets head coach Adam Pate to call upon Rosewood alum Tanner McKeel..
The Mid-Atlantic Christian University signee abuptly shut down the Battleships’ weapons, got an insurance run in the seventh and earned the save.
Logan Merritt emerged as the Jets’ top pilot with season highs in hits (four), RBI (five) and stolen bases (five). Rowan Watt contributed three hits, three RBI and two stolen bases.
Clay Matthews and Will Harris cranked out two hits apiece.
WC Blue vs. Martin County
Wayne County put runners on base in each inning, but couldn’t scratch out a run against defensively-sound Martin County.
Cameron Aycock doubled and stole a base. Teammates Gavin Johnson, Ben Peacock, Hunter Coulombe and Mason Moffett supplied one hit apiece for Wayne County.
Starter Carter Gipson and bullpen mate Cohen Waddell combined for an eight-hitter on the mound. The duo combined to throw first-pitch strikes to 19 of 30 batters they faced. They each logged two strikeouts and neither issued a free pass.
Martin County posted one earned run.
“With no walks by Gipson and Cohen, I will take those pitching numbers any day,” said WC Blue head coach Colton Chrisman. “Baseball is a game of ups and downs. The successful ones just get up a little faster and that’s what we look to do Thursday.”