03/31/04 — South Central slips by Aycock in baseball

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South Central slips by Aycock in baseball

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on March 31, 2004 2:03 PM

PIKEVILLE -- Play every pitch.

South Central coach Robert "Peanut" Langston shouted that simple instruction to his team during early-inning action against Charles B. Aycock, and his team listened.

The host Golden Falcons, however, squandered a few of those pitches -- especially in the infield. The visiting Falcons profited from four Aycock errors, including a crucial seventh-inning miscue, in a 5-3 road victory Tuesday evening.

"This was a typical Eastern Carolina Conference baseball game," Langston said.

It was also a typical outing for Aycock pitcher Philip Cunningham, who lost his second consecutive decision. The junior right-hander yielded just one hit, allowed two base runners and retired 10 straight batters through the first four innings.

However, South Central managed to claim a 1-0 lead. Jon Allen Conway greeted Cunningham (4-2) with a lead-off single in the first, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and stole third. He eventually scored on a two-out infield error.

"One thing about Peanut's squad is they're going to battle you every single pitch," Aycock coach Charles Davis said. "His teams did that at West Craven. He's done a great job with that club and has them believing they can win, and they got a big win on the road."

Meanwhile, the Golden Falcons put nine runners on base during that same four-inning stretch. They came away empty each inning and left the bases loaded in the third.

Aycock failed to challenge Falcons right-hander Matt Scoggin, who threw a total of 28 pitches in the third, fourth and fifth innings combined.

"We had our chances again," Golden Falcons coach Charles Davis said. "We were not selective early in the game. Then I thought as the game went on, we got selective.

"Runs you don't score in the first two or three innings count the same as they do in the fifth, sixth and seventh. You don't get any bonus points. When we get runners on base early in the game, we've got to start putting the ball in play."

Blake Jamison provided South Central's next big hit in the fifth inning. After looking at a called third strike in the third inning, Jamison slapped Cunningham's first offering in the fifth over the left field fence.

Bill Hopkins' lead-off, solo home run in the sixth boosted the Falcons' lead to 3-0.

The Golden Falcons answered this time.

Senior Nik Pappas ignited a three-run outburst with a double to right center field. Bennett Jeffreys ripped a single to left and South Central misplayed the ball, which allowed Pappas to score.

Will Spence plated Greg Tipton, Jeffreys' courtesy runner, for the second run. Josh Kirby, who singled early in the inning and chased Scoggins from the mound, scored on an infield error and tied the game at 3-3.

"Wow," Langston said of Scoggin's effort. "I felt like we needed to make a move at that time with Hopkins. They made a run at us, we could have folded, but we finished the inning and stayed tied."

Hopkins ended the Aycock sixth with back-to-back strikeouts and the bases loaded for a second time.

An infield error, Jamison's RBI double and a sacrifice fly led to two seventh-inning runs for South Central. Jamison finished as the Falcons' lone mutiple hitter in three plate appearances.

"It's been that way for us all season because somebody different has stepped up, and today was his day," Langston said. "He deserves what he got today."

Kirby drilled a two-out double in the seventh for Aycock, but was left stranded when Hopkins forced an infield pop-up. Hopkins seized his fourth win in five tries with two innings of three-strikeout, two-hit relief.

"We're not great by any means, but we kind of bring our lunch box with us to develop ourselves and get better," Langston said. "My hat is off to Coach Davis. That team right there is not going to go away.

"There is too much pride, too much tradition here."

Aycock (5-4, 3-3 ECC) suffered its third straight defeat and fourth overall in its last five outings. The Golden Falcons travel to county rival Eastern Wayne on Friday. Game time is 7 p.m.

"We're going to play our way out of this," Davis said of the current three-game skid. "I think we showed a lot of life tonight ... didn't quit. Sooner or later, things are going to go our way."

S. Central 100 011 2 -- 5 4 3

C.B. Aycock 000 003 0 -- 3 9 4

Leading hitters -- C.B. Aycock -- Nik Pappas 2-4, 2B; Josh Kirby 2-3, 2B; Travis Bartlett 1-3; Will Spence 1-3, RBI. South Central -- Jon Allen Conway 1-3, RBI; Bill Hopkins 1-2, HR, RBI; Blake Jamison 2-3, 2B, HR, RBI.

E -- Jeffreys, Gouty 2, Spence, Conway, Camp, Hester. LOB -- C.B. Aycock 9, South Central 3. SH -- Brown, Hester, Bartlett. SF -- Conway. CS -- Green.


South Central

Scoggins 5 7 3 2 1 2

Hopkins (W, 4-1) 2 2 0 0 1 3

C.B. Aycock

Cunningham (L, 4-2) 7 4 5 2 2 9

PB -- Bieber.