05/09/04 — Wiggins' third hit -- home run -- sparks So. Wayne

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Wiggins' third hit -- home run -- sparks So. Wayne

By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on May 9, 2004 2:05 AM

Southern Wayne freshman Brady Wiggins will likely play at least three more baseball games at rival Eastern Wayne before he graduates.

He certainly won't forget his first varsity trip there Friday night -- and neither will his Saints' teammates.

Wiggins, who finished with three hits, led off the top of the sixth by mashing a 3-1 chest-high fastball well over the left field fence off of reliever Jesse Lancaster to break a 4-4 tie as Southern Wayne went on to claim a 6-4 win.

"It's what you dream about. I stepped up, and everybody stepped up," said Wiggins, who hit his first home run of the year. "We played big tonight."

The Saints (10-11, 7-7 Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference) improved to 4-1 against Wayne County ECC teams and kept themselves right in the thick of the N.C. High School Athletic Association playoff chase.

Southern Wayne and West Craven are currently tied for the conference's fourth and final playoff spot heading into the final week of the season. The Saints host Goldsboro on Tuesday and visit the Eagles on Thursday.

"Everybody is right in there tight for that fourth playoff spot," Southern Wayne coach Trae McKee said. "It's going to come down to the last game."

Eastern Wayne (10-12, 8-6 ECC) is now tied with rival Charles B. Aycock for the third spot with a head-to-head match-up with the Falcons slated for Tuesday in Pikeville. The Warriors finish the regular season at Kinston on Wednesday.

"I just want to see how we will handle this. You have to give credit to Southern Wayne, they played well," Eastern Wayne coach Jabo Fulghum said. "Their pitchers spotted the ball well and our pitchers didn't.

"We've got to bounce back from this loss. We've got our work cut out."

Before Wiggins' blast in the sixth, Eastern Wayne had rallied back from its second, multi-run deficit to tie the game at 4-4 in the bottom of the fifth. The Warriors' Airlon Vinson and Matt Hemenway delivered back-to-back, two-out RBI singles, but Matthew Holloman enduced a pop-up for the final out of the fifth.

With two outs and runners on first and second in the sixth, McKee called on right-hander Ashton Langston to relieve Holloman.

Langston, who earned a complete-game win Tuesday at Washington, got the final out of the sixth and allowed one hit in the seventh by Vinson. After Vinson's single, the Saints' middle infielders -- Austin Hood (short stop) and Wiggins (second base) -- turned a flawless, 6-4-3 double play to secure the win.

Holloman tallied the win, while Langston got the save.

"We made some big plays on defense. We did have some big hits in some key situations, and we just wanted it that bad," Southern Wayne coach Trae McKee said. "Everything they got they had to earn. When we play defense like that, we are going to play with a lot of teams."

Offensively, balance proved key for Southern Wayne.

All six of the runs were driven by a different player and all but two in the starting lineup recorded a hit. Austin Hood and David Combs provided run-scoring singles in the first, while Holloman knocked in Michael Steward -- who walked, then reached second after a pick-off throw from starter Vinson skipped off of the first baseman's glove.

It was Eastern Wayne's second of four errors on the game, two of which came on pick-off plays and led to unearned runs.

Trailing 3-0, Eastern Wayne's Trey Johnson and Tyler Ham drove in the Warriors first two runs in the second as the game remained in a 3-2 struggle until the fifth.

With runners at first-and-third and two out in the fifth, Langston executed a perfect squeeze bunt to plate Hood to give the Saints a 4-2 edge.

Southern Wayne's Chris Carr came off of the bench to knock in the game's final run with a sacrifice fly to left in the top of the seventh.

"You have to give their kids credit," Fulghum said. "They played hard and did what it took to win."

Southern Wayne 210 011 1 -- 6 11 1

Eastern Wayne 020 020 0 -- 4 9 4

Leading hitters -- Southern Wayne -- Brady Wiggins 3-4, HR, RBI; Matthew Holloman 2-4, RBI; Josh Narron 2-4, 2B. Eastern Wayne -- Airlon Vinson 2-3, RBI; Matt Hemenway 2-4, RBI.


Southern Wayne

Holloman (W, 2-3) 5 2/3 8 4 4 2 2

Langston (S) 1 1/3 1 0 0 0 0

Eastern Wayne

Vinson 4 6 4 3 3 2

Lancaster (L) 3 5 2 1 0 2