Wayne County Post 11 needed an answer.
Pitt County Post 39 came from behind and tied the game at 11-11 in the bottom of the seventh.
And in the top of the eighth, Post 11 found an answer.
Justin Holland dug in his cleats and deposited the first pitch he saw over the wall to give Wayne County Post 11 a 12-11 lead.
Davis Albert then hit an RBI single to put Post 11 up 13-11. Reliever Anderson Clucas then held off Pitt County in the bottom of the eighth to secure the victory at Pitt Community College.
“I was proud of them. There were a few things we could’ve done different to not be in that situation, but when you’re in a game like this with two good teams battling it out, you love to see your kids respond, and man if didn’t respond,” Wayne County Post 11 head coach Adam Pate said.
With the win, Post 11 clinches the Area I East Division regular-season title, and the No. 1 seed in the Area I East double-elimination postseason tournament.
“It’s a big deal,” Pate said about earning the No. 1 seed. “But we’ve done this before and come up short, so we’re looking forward to next week, but first we’ve got another game on Thursday.
“There’s a lot of work left to do.”
From the start of the game, Wayne County appeared to be in for a long night.
Post 11 took the lead top of the second, Braeden Collins stole home, while Campbell Cunningham’s RBI ground out put Post 11 up 2-0.
However, in the bottom of the second, the ballgame was suspended due to lightning, and when the delay was over, Pitt County took advantage by jumping out to a 4-2 lead.
Wayne County pecked away at the deficit in the top of the third. Will Albert, Holland, and Drew Spencer all drew walks to load bases.
Logan Merritt then stepped into the batter’s box and hit an RBI single, Holland scored off a wild pitch, Collins nailed a two-run single, and Post 11 cruised ahead 6-4.
In the top of the fourth, Will Albert connected on an RBI triple, and Spencer scored off a wild pitch to put Post 11 in front 8-4, while in the top of the fifth, Post 11 would increase its lead to 10-4.
But Pitt County would not go down quietly and scored two runs in the bottom of the fifth to cut Wayne County’s lead down to 10-6.
“When you score a lot of runs, it’s usually not that close of a game, but Pitt hit the ball well too,” Pate said. “I’m proud of our offense. We had a few at-bats where we could’ve done things differently, but Pitt has a bunch of good arms over there, and they’re a really good team.”
Collins’ RBI single in the top of the six put Wayne County up 11-6, but Pitt County scored two runs in the bottom of the inning to make it a three-run ballgame.
Wayne County was held scoreless in the top of the seventh, and Pitt County managed to score three runs in the bottom of the inning to tie the ballgame and send it into extra innings.
With the momentum now on Pitt County’s side, Post 11 needed to respond in the top of the eighth, and it set the table for Holland’s momentum-stealing home run.
“I just remind them that we’re more than capable of winning this game,” Pate said. “We’re more than capable of getting an out, scoring a run. When they tied the game, that was tough. They had all the momentum, and in one pitch, Justin Holland got the momentum back in our dugout.”
Pitt County scored one in the bottom of the eighth, but Clucas delivered, and Post 11 left Pitt Community College with a thrilling 13-12 victory.
Wayne County wraps up its regular season on Thursday against Wilson Post 13 at Rosewood High School.