Post 102 qualifies for post-season

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 14, 2003

EDENTON – Post 102 baseball skipper Randy Whitaker knew all too well that the only thing standing in his team’s way of an American Legion play-off berth was All-State pitcher Chris Defago of Edenton Post 40. What Whitaker chose to do in regards to that task was to fight fire with fire.

With a berth in the play-offs on the line for both clubs here Friday night, Whitaker went to his ace – Ryan Ellis, an All-State performer as well – and the move reaped big dividends as Post 102 grabbed the North Division’s fourth and final post-season berth with a 6-5 win over Edenton.

Both pitchers were at their top form, each working a complete game (called with one-out in the top of the seventh due to a severe thunderstorm). Ellis scattered seven hits and fanned eight while Defago was touched for six hits and whiffed seven.

&uot;You couldn’t have asked for a better clutch performance from either team with so much riding on this game,&uot; said Whitaker whose club will enter today’s (Tuesday) opening round action in the Area 1 tournament with an 8-14 overall record.

Whitaker continued, &uot;Ryan really gave us a great effort on the mound. We backed him up with something we hadn’t been doing a good job of lately and that’s being able to manufacture some runs. I thought we ran the bases well and got the key hits in the key spots.&uot;

One of those key spots came in the top of the third inning where Ahoskie, nursing a 2-1 lead, was able to plate a pair of runs and increase their cushion to 4-1. Elliott Farless started things off by reaching on an error and raced to third when Brian Burton drove a Defago pitch into centerfield for a single. Corey Castelloe’s RBI groundout plated Farless. That grounder moved Burton to second. He moved to third on a wild pitch and scored when Eric Ellis laid down a perfect squeeze bunt.

&uot;The bunt was big in that situation,&uot; noted coach Whitaker. &uot;Eric did a great job laying it down and it got the run across.&uot;

After Edenton closed to within 4-2 by plating a solo run in the bottom of the fifth, Ahoskie answered with two runs in the top of the sixth to stretch their lead to 6-2. There, E. Ellis led-off by smacking a double off the wall in right-centerfield. He advanced to third when Lee Britt reached on a fielder’s choice and scored when Josh Adams grounded into a doubleplay.

Despite facing two outs, Ahoskie kept on digging for runs. Chris Lawrence lined a single to center, moved to second on a wild pitch and scored what would later prove to be the game-winning run on Adam Baldwin’s RBI single to center.

Thanks to Darius Sawyer’s two-single single and an RBI single off the bat of Matt Waters, Edenton rallied for three runs in the bottom of the sixth, but the heavens opened-up in the seventh, forcing an early end to the game and protecting Ahoskie’s post-season berth.

Post 102 opened the scoring with two in the top of the first. There, Baldwin drew a leadoff walk and was bunted to second by Alex Stevens. After Farless drew a walk, Baldwin scored on Burton’s RBI single to centerfield. Farless raced to third on that hit and scored on a wild pitch.

Edenton plated their initial run in the bottom of the first on an RBI double off the bat of Bailey Daniels.

On Saturday night in their home finale, Ahoskie battled divisional leading Wilson to a 4-4 tie through five innings, but the visitors tallied two in the seventh and two more in the ninth to deal Post 102 an 8-4 setback. With the loss, Ahoskie finished 4-6 in the divisional race, but still remained in the play-offs.