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Wilson American Legion baseball head coach Noah Edens would have been well pleased with four innings from starting pitcher Alston Pittman, a left-hander and recent Beddingfield High graduate.
But Pittman, in a rare start, lasted six innings and helped his cause by driving in the first run with a double as host Post 13 spanked Wayne County Post 11 9-3 in the second game of the best-of-five Area I East Division semifinals series at Fleming Stadium on Tuesday evening.
The Goldsboro High diamond will be the site of game 3 at 7 p.m. Wednesday. Wilson, the No. 4 seed, then hosts game 4 at 7 p.m. Thursday, probably on the Beddingfield High diamond with Fleming Stadium not available.
Behind Pittman and an 11-hit offensive that included seven doubles, Wilson defeated Post 11, the regular-season top finisher, for the first time in four meetings this season, halted a five-game skid and upped its record to 7-8. Wayne County lost for only the third time against 22 wins.
“We’re capable,” Edens declared. “It was good to see; it’s been a long time since we’ve come out and put together a complete game.
“We hit the baseball very well; defensively we played well, especially in the outfield. The pitching was effective.”
Pittman, in evening his record at 1-1, issued six walks, five in the first three innings, and had just one strikeout. However, he allowed only two hits and, from the last out of the third inning through the fifth inning, retired seven successive Post 11 hitters.
Right-hander T.J. Harris worked the seventh, shaking off a lead-off walk with a game-ending double play.
“When Alston throws strikes, he’s effective,” Edens said. “We thought he good give their hitters fits. I think they had a hard time staying back on him. We were hoping for a good four innings from him, but he went out there and gave us six.”
Post 13 pounced on starting Wayne right-hander Aryc Chrismon, who suffered his first loss. Center fielder Cedric Kirby led off with a double and trotted home on Pittman’s double. With two outs in the first, second baseman Josh Fuller laced an RBI single.
Wilson snapped a 2-2 tie in the third when catcher Tyler Sherrod doubled and came home on first baseman Silas Gonzales’ single.
Post 13 chased Chrismon and reliever Kolby Harris with six unearned runs in the fourth. Post 11 committed three errors and Wilson’s hits were Sherrod’s single and doubles by Gonzales and right fielder Matt Jacobs.
Sherrod and Gonzales each rapped three hits, with Sherrod pounding a pair of doubles.
“They swung the bats,” Post 11 head coach Adam Pate said of Wilson. “Sherrod and Gonzales swung the bats really well. I thought they played well. We didn’t play that badly except for that one bad inning.”
Pate credited Wilson hitters for handling quality pitches from Chrismon and credited the relief performance of Post 11 left-hander Ryan Sullivan the final 2 1/3 innings.
“Sometimes, you just have to tip your hat and roll on,” Pate said.
Wayne County parlayed two walks, a throwing error, two walks, two wild pitches and singles by second baseman Chance Howard and third baseman Blake Gipson into two runs in the third.
Pittman’s defense was sensational in the fourth when center fielder Kirby, right fielder Jacobs and shortstop Dom Gaetano responded with gems. However, the defense faltered with two errors in the sixth, allowing an unearned run. Post 13 turned two double plays.
After losing 6-4 with 10 players Monday night, Post 13 won with 11 players Tuesday. Edens expects the number to be up to 12 when Jaelynn Melton returns and draws the starting pitching assignment Wednesday.
“We are going to try to win (Wednesday night) and worry about Thursday when it gets here,” Edens remarked.
“We know we’re going to see a good arm. They’re not used to losing and I don’t think they’re going to take it well.”
Pate reported Tucker Chapin will be Wayne’s starting pitcher and added: “We will be ready to go (Wednesday).”
Score by innings:
Wayne County 002 001 0 — 3
Wilson 201 600 x — 9
WP-Alston Pittman (1-1) 6 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 6 BB, 1 SO. LP-Aryc Chrisman 3 1/3 IP, 5 H, 7 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 2 SO.
LEADING HITTERS — Wayne County: Blake Gipson 1-3, RBI; Chance Howard 1-2; Wilson: Tyler Sherrod 3-4, 2 2B, 2 R, RBI; Silas Gonzales 3-4, 2B, RBI; Cedric Kirby 1-2, 2B, 2 R; Josh Fuller 1-4, 2 RBI; Matt Jacobs 1-3, 2B, RBI; Alston Pittman 1-4, 2B, 2R, RBI; Dom Gaetano 1-4.