Over the weekend, Wayne County Post 11 competed in the Palmetto Legion Invitational Tournament.
The invitational featured teams from North Carolina (Wayne County), South Carolina (Florence Post 1, Horry Post 111, Chesterfield Post 74, Murrells Inlet Post 178), and Ohio (Beverly-Lowell Post 389, Ottowa Post 63, Greenville Post 140).
Wayne County played four games in three days and went 3-1 in the Palmetto Invitational.
“Coming down here and going 3-1 is definitely satisfying,” Wayne County Post 11 head coach Adam Pate said. “All in all, we did a good job, and it was a good experience for our kids to come down here and make the trip.”
On Friday evening at Socastee High School in Myrtle Beach, S.C, Post 11 defeated Murrells Inlet 13-2.
Wayne County found itself in a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of first, but starting pitcher Braeden Collins managed to Post 11 out of the inning.
Justin Holland hit a home run in the top of the second to put Post 11 up 1-0, Murrells Inlet would tie things up at 1-1 in the bottom of the third.
After a scoreless fourth inning, Post 11 went on to score seven runs in the top of the fifth.
Austin Booth’s RBI single gave Post 11 a 2-1 advantage. Two batters later, Rowan Watt nailed a grand slam to increase Post 11’s lead to 7-1. Drew Spencer then drew a walk, and Sam Rice hit an RBI single and later scored off a wild pitch to score Post 11’s final run of the fifth inning.
Murrells Inlet cut Post 11’s lead down to 7-2 in the bottom of the fifth, but Wayne County scored five more runs in the sixth inning to shut the door on Murrells Inlet.
“It was a great win, and I thought Murrells’ starting pitcher did a good job of throwing a lot of strikes and kind of kept off us off balance for the first few innings,” Pate said. “But then we really came alive. We were able to score some runs and hit the ball hard.
“Braeden Collins had a good start, and we finished the game strong with the bullpen in Will Harris and Campbell Cunningham, so I was definitely pleased.”
On Saturday, Wayne County returned to Socastee High School for a doubleheader against Ottowa Post 63 and Beverly-Lowell Post 389.
Wayne County throttled Ottawa by a 13-0 count in the first game and held off Beverly-Lowell for a 5-1 victory in game two.
In its game against Ottowa, Post 11 scored most of its runs in the second inning with two outs on the board.
Wayne County grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Tanner Capps hit a home run. Davis Albert then hit a double and scored on a base hit by Booth.
After Will Harris hit a single, Watt delivered a two-run double that put Wayne County ahead 4-0.
Two batters later, and facing a bases-loaded situation, Rice hit a two-run single that enabled Watt and Will Albert to cross home plate.
Holland then stepped up to the plate and drilled a double. Capps then hit his second home run of the inning to put Wayne County up 10-0.
Game one starter Will Pennington and reliever Anderson Clucas kept Ottowa off the board, and Post 11 cruised to victory.
“I thought we swung the bat really well. It was good to see Tanner Capps hit a couple of balls out of the yard. It was good to see how we ran the bases. They made a couple of mistakes, and we took advantage,” Pate said. “The big bright spot was Will Pennington with another quality start, and Anderson Clucas had a great one inning of relief.”
In game two, Beverley-Lowell took a 1-0 lead before Post 11 took the lead in the top of the third when Holland hit a two-run home run.
Watt’s RBI double in the top of the fourth increased Wayne County’s lead to 3-1.
Wayne County was held scoreless in the fifth and sixth innings, but pitchers Tyler Thompson, Carson Gipson, and Cohen Waddell kept Ottowa off-balance for most of the game.
And Spencer supplied a two-run homer in the top of the seventh to push Wayne County ahead 5-1.
“The second game was very good. Tyler Thompson had a great start on the mound. He threw a lot of strikes and gave us a chance,” Pate said. “Offensively, we had some big hits at the right time to score some runs.
“Another great thing was Carson Gipson in relief. He was lights out for us, and Cohen Waddell pitched well in his one inning of relief as well.”
On Sunday, for its final game of the Palmetto Invitational, Wayne County headed to Florence, S.C., to face off against Greenville Post 140 at American Legion Field.
In the sweltering heat, Ottowa won the game 3-2.
Post 11 seized a 1-0 lead in the top of the second when Collins connected on an RBI double. However, Ottowa scored two runs in the bottom of the third to take a 2-1 lead.
Rice’s sacrifice fly in the top of the fourth tied the game, but Ottowa would retake the lead in the bottom of the fifth and held off Post 11 to get the win.
“Those days are going to happen. Number one, we played well all weekend, after a bad night at Campbell, we came down here and did very well,” Pate said. “That was definitely not our best, but at the same time, that happens when you play enough baseball games.
“You’re going to have days when the ball doesn’t bounce your way, but I try to tell the boys that ‘you have to make your own breaks.’”
Wayne County opens Area I East play against Kinston Post 43 on Tuesday evening at Rosewood High School, with first pitch is set for 7 p.m.