03/18/04 — Aycock bats boom over Southern Wayne

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Aycock bats boom over Southern Wayne

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on March 18, 2004 1:58 PM

PIKEVILLE -- Southern Wayne gave county rival Charles B. Aycock too many extra outs in the first two innings Wednesday afternoon on the Golden Falcons' baseball diamond.

The Golden Falcons graciously accepted the assistance from their guests.

Josh Pate and Philip Cunningham each belted a multiple-run home run as Aycock cruised past the Saints 7-3 in Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference play.

"When you dig yourself a hole like that, it's tough to scratch your way out of it," Southern Wayne coach Trae McKee said.

A hit batter and two infield errors loaded the bases for the Golden Falcons in the opening inning. Pate followed with a grand slam, the first of his career, over the right field fence.

The Saints defense kicked the ball around to start the second inning. Will Spence's sacrifice fly to left field led to the Golden Falcons' fifth run. Cunningham finished off the scoring with two-run blast to deep center field.

Aycock led 7-0.

Philip Cunningham

News-Argus/Dennis Hill

Charles B. Aycock's Philip Cunningham connects for a home run to give his team a 7-0 lead against Southern Wayne Wednesday.

"We took advantage of it, which I was glad to see," Golden Falcons coach Charles Davis said of the Saints' miscues. "We were very fortunate. I thought Josh was a big key. He goes up there looking for one pitch, gets it and hits it out of the park.

"Cunningham does the same thing. I just thought our approaches at the plate were much better today."

Meanwhile, Cunningham (3-0) yielded one hit in the first four innings. The right-hander recorded five strikeouts and retired eight consecutive batters after yielding a lead-off single to Wayne Clemens in the second. But Clemens got caught in an inning-ending double play, turned by Aycock right fielder Nik Pappas and first baseman Travis Bartlett.

The Golden Falcons (4-0, 2-0 ECC) loaded the bases in the fourth with no outs. Pappas' lead-off double, an infield error and a hit batter set the table for Cunningham. But Saints reliever Ashton Langston induced a fielder's choice ground out. Third baseman Josh Narron gunned down Pappas at the plate for the first out.

Langston, who relieved Pearsall after the second inning, forced an infield pop-up and earned a strikeout to end the inning.

"Langston did a super job," McKee said. "He came in and shut the door on them. He worked out of a bases-loaded jam and didn't give up a run? We couldn't ask anything more out of him.

"When you have somebody throwing strikes and we're making the plays behind him, that kind of turned the tables a little bit."

The defensive stand rekindled the Saints' intensity.

Clemens and Matt Graham greeted Cunningham with back-to-back singles. They trotted home on Chris Pearsall's double into right center field. Designated hitter Chris Carr plated Pearsall with a ground out to short, closing the gap to 7-3.

"I thought we battled back pretty well ... made some things happen," McKee said. "We made some adjustments at the plate and made some plays in the field."

David Combs' single and an infield error kept the pressure on Cunningham in the fourth. But Cunningham forced an inning-ending groundout and the Saints (2-3, 0-3) wouldn't threaten again.

Cunningham retired the final seven batters he faced. Shortstop Will Spence recorded three assists and one putout during that stretch, giving him eight assists and one putout for the game. Bartlett, Jeffreys and Greg Tipton each had a putout as well.

Pappas emerged the Golden Falcons' offensive spark with two hits in three plate appearances. Lead-off batter Matthew Waddell collected one hit, but reached base during all four at-bats. Waddell has an on-base percentage of 1.000 (7-for-7) the last two games.

Clemens paced the Saints with two hits.

So. Wayne 000 030 0 -- 3 5 5

C.B. Aycock 430 000 x -- 7 6 2

Leading hitters -- C.B. Aycock -- Josh Pate 1-3, HR, 4 RBI; Philip Cunningham 1-4, HR, 3 RBI; Nik Pappas 2-3; Matthew Waddell 1-3; Bennett Jeffreys 1-3. Southern Wayne -- Wayne Clemens 2-3; Matt Graham 1-3; Chris Pearsall 1-3, 2B, 2 RBI; David Combs 1-2.


Southern Wayne

Pearsall (L, 0-2) 2 4 7 2 1 1

Langston 4 2 0 0 0 4

C.B. Aycock

Cunningham (W, 3-0) 7 5 3 3 0 6

HBP -- Waddell (by Pearsall), Spence (by Langston).