Wayne County Post 11 capped a perfect regular-season campaign in Area I East Division play with a 7-4 conquest of Wilson Post 13 on Thursday evening.
Next is the week-long division tournament, which begins Saturday with a play-in game between Kinston and Ahoskie. The winner travels to Post 11 on Monday to launch the double-elimination portion of the playoffs that determine the division’s automatic qualifier to the state tournament.
Post 11 last reached the state tournament in 2014.
Wilson and Pitt County also square off Monday.
Wayne County 7, Wilson 4
How it happened: Post 11 used the “pitch-by-committee” strategy against its long-time nemesis. Tyler Thompson hurled two innings of three-hit, one-strikeout relief to claim the mound decision behind starter Will Pennington, who yielded three hits and sat down three Post 13 batters on strikeouts. Hunter Theriac, Cohen Waddell, Campbell Cunningham and Carson Gipson also appeared out of the bullpen. The group combined to yield four runs (two earned) on 10 hits with six strikeouts.
Key moment: Leading 3-0 through five innings, Wayne County pushed four runs across in the bottom of the sixth. Braeden Collins touched home on an infield error. Rowan Watt drew a bases-loaded walk with Austin Booth and Will Harris already aboard. Harris scored on a passed ball. Watt and Booth touch the plate on an outfield miscue.
Offensive leaders: Logan Merritt 1-1 (two walks), Braeden Collins 1-3 (two runs scored), Davis Albert 1-3, Will Harris 1-3, Austin Booth 1-2 (RBI, walk).
About the game from Post 11 head coach Adam Pate: “I thought we played well tonight. We staffed it from a pitching perspective and all of our pitchers did a great job. [A] little bit of bad luck in the last inning. But all of our arms did well tonight.”
About the season thus far from Pate: “I’m really proud of this team. [We’ve] overcome a lot of injuries throughout the summer, and before the summer even started. They’ve found ways to win tough games and they’ve enjoyed being around each other. They’ve represented our county well to this point. [I’m] hoping we can keep it rolling in the area tournament.”
Notable stat: Post 11 is 7-0 at home this season.
Records: Wayne County 19-4 overall, 8-0 Area I East; Wilson 6-8, 4-4.
Next game: Monday vs. Kinston-Ahoskie winner, 7 p.m.