Down 6-0 after the first inning, Wayne County Post 11 battled hard to come back against Rowan County Post 342.
And despite a valiant effort and having the tying run at the plate, Wayne County could not complete the comeback as Rowan County held off Wayne County 7-4, which marked the end of Wayne County’s fantastic season.
Post 11 ends the season with a 23-7 record. Wayne County also won the Area I East Division and reached the N.C. Senior American Legion Tournament for the first time since 2014.
“I appreciate how the boys battled. Coming into the game, we knew that it was the most important game of our season because our game with Rowan County meant everything, and that was really special,” Wayne County Post 11 head coach Adam Pate said. “It was a cool environment and setting for our kids to be a part of, so I was happy with how they battled the whole game.”
Rowan scored six runs to open the game and Post 11 suddenly found itself down 6-0. However, Wayne County started its comeback in the bottom of the inning and scored its first run on Justin Holland’s solo home run.
Post 11 made it a 6-2 ballgame in the bottom of the second when Davis Albert scored off a Rowan County error, but Rowan took a 7-2 lead in the top of the fifth.
“Rowan found ways to take advantage and get out to an early lead, and that’s always huge, but I was proud of kids for responding,” Pate said.
Wayne County was held scoreless in the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth innings, but Wayne County mounted one more comeback attempt at the bottom of the seventh.
With one out the board, Will Harris and Rowan Watt both drew walks to get on base. And as Harris went to steal third, Rowan reliever Logan Rodgers was called for a balk, which enabled Harris to score and Watt to reach third.
Watt would then score off Will Albert’s RBI single, and in the blink of an eye, Wayne County cut Rowan County’s lead down to 7-4.
Justin Holland then hit a single as Wayne County now had the tying run at the plate, but Rodgers induced two flyouts to end the game.
“I’m proud of our kids for not giving up,” Pate said. “You could tell how bad they wanted it and to do well. So, I’m happy for them and proud of them.
“We got the tying run up the plate twice, and that’s all you can ask of your kids.”
Reliever Carson Gipson pitched six and one-third innings for Wayne County. Gipson gave up six hits and zero earned runs while tossing three strikeouts.
“The pitching performance of Carson Gipson was pretty awesome, and I’m glad to see him keep Rowan at bay, and we had a chance to come back,” Pate said.