04/09/04 — Baseball -- Saints surging after win over Kinston

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Baseball -- Saints surging after win over Kinston

By David Williams
Published in Sports on April 9, 2004 1:59 PM

DUDLEY -- Southern Wayne baseball is back.

After opening the season on a losing skid, the Saints have put together a string of wins to jump back into the midst of the Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference race. The latest of those wins came Thursday in a 3-2 victory over Kinston at Doyle Whitfield Athletic Park.

And although some things have been going against the Saints, their hunger to succeed continues to drive them to wins.

"They got hungry," said Saints coach Trae McKee. "When a pitcher goes out there and has command of both sides of the plate, and he's getting groundballs and we're making plays behind him, the confidence goes both ways -- not only on the mound but also here in the field.

"They all got some confidence, and the desire to get better a little bit every day is there now."

The pitcher for McKee Thursday was Ashton Langston, who went the distance despite a shaky start. Langston struck out five and gave up five hits, only one for extra bases, as he worked out of jams and relied on his defense to keep Kinston at bay.

"Ashton did a great job," said McKee. "We've been talking to the pitchers about having confidence in themselves, and in the infielders."

The defense did their part, notably catcher David Combs. The strong-armed backstop threw out runners in the first two innings, narrowly missed throwing out a third runner, and made a nice play in the third inning on an infield grounder to cut down a runner trying to score from third.

"That's their game," said McKee of Kinston. "They're very, very aggressive, They're very athletic on the bases, and they run. I thought we did a very good job of taking them out of their element, at times. David Combs threw the baseball well from behind the plate. He's got a good, strong arm and he threw strikes to the bases."

Kinston (3-11, 3-6) got out to a quick 2-0 lead as the opening hitters reached in an error and as a hit batsman. Combs threw out the lead runner at third trying to steal, but Richard Nobles rung up a double to score one run and came around to score on Richard Nobles' single to right field. The Saints turned a double play on a ball that popped off the handle end of Jamar Carraway's bat to end the inning.

Southern Wayne (6-6. 4-5) struggled to get consistent hits off Kinston starter Josh Tyndall, so the Saints went to playing small-ball. They scored a run in the bottom of the first as leadoff man Nathan Fail reached base on an error, stole second and scored from there on a ground out be Austin Hood. In the third, the Saints tied it up when Matthew Holloman led the inning by reaching base on another of Kinston's five errors. Holloman stole second, took third on a wild pitch, and scored on Josh Narron's ground out.

The game-winning run came in the fifth inning. Matt Graham singled up the middle to open the inning, took second on a sacrifice bunt by Fail, and scored from there when the infield made a sure out at first on Holloman's grounder but was not fast enough to catch Graham, who came all the way from second to score.

"We executed very well tonight on some little things," said McKee. "We got baserunners here and there, and we made the most of our opportunities."

"We're just playing poorly," said Kinston coach Eddie Loesner. "Our guys, they want to win so bad, and they're trying, and I'm happy about that. But we're just playing poorly and making too many errors, and mistakes on the bases.

"You can have Sandy Koufax out there, but if you're not making the plays on defense you're not going to win."

The Saints will play the rest of the season with out Chris Pearsall, who had surgery on his broken finger and will not be back.

Southern Wayne will start play in the Beach Diamond Invitational Tournament on Monday, taking on North Davidson at 10 a.m.

Kinston 200 000 0 -- 2 5 5

So. Wayne 101 010 x -- 3 2 1

Leading hitters -- Kinston -- Matt Brown 2-3, Ben Lanier 2B, Josh Tyndall, Richard Nobles all with hits. Southern Wayne -- Matthew Holloman, Austin Hood, Josh Narron all with hits.



Tyndall (L) 6 3 3 2 1 2

Southern Wayne

Langston (W) 7 5 2 2 1 5

WP -- Tyndall 1, Langston 3. HBP -- Dixon, Exum (by Langston).