05/12/04 — Baseball -- Warriors down CBA

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Baseball -- Warriors down CBA

By David Williams
Published in Sports on May 12, 2004 2:03 PM

PIKEVILLE -- Eastern Wayne's Jesse Lancaster won a huge battle of the county's top pitchers and moved his Warrior team within one game of a spot in the state 3-A playoffs with a 3-1 win over Charles B. Aycock Tuesday night at the Falcons' diamond.

Lancaster, a junior right-hander, went pitch for pitch with Aycock's Philip Cunningham through seven in-nings. Both mound-smen walked one batter each and gave up six hits, while Cun-ningham struck out 11 hitters to Lancaster's eight.

But it was Lancaster that battled through the tough middle innings, turning away numerous scoring chances by the homestanding Falcons.

"It was his second-best outing," said Eastern Wayne coach Jabo Fulghum. "West Carteret was just like tonight. He spotted well and threw the ball well. When you locate, you give your team a chance."

"I thought Jesse threw a great ball game," said Aycock coach Charles Davis. "I thought that to get to him you have to get to him early, and we didn't. I thought he got tougher as the game went on, because he's a player. I mean, he's a gamer.

"Philip had a great performance again tonight. He's just been a little snake-bit here lately. He made some great pitches in great situations."

The critical victory puts Eastern Wayne (9-6, 11-12) into third place in the Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference with one game left, tonight against Kinston. The loss puts Aycock (8-7, 15-8) in a must-win situation going into Thursday's road game at Washington to have any hopes of making the playoffs.

Aycock has been in the playoffs for five straight seasons and for 13 of the last 14 years under Falcons coach Charles Davis.

Eastern Wayne got on the board in thrilling style in the third inning as Chris Davis took Cunningham's first pitch deep over the center field wall for a solo home run and a 1-0 lead.

"He's a kid that's been up and down, hitting-wise," said Fulghum. "That home run gave him some confidence."

For the next three innings, Lancaster and the Warrior defense kept the Falcons at zero runs.

Catcher Tyler Ham threw out Will Spence at second base to end the third inning. In the fourth, Airlon Vinson made a strong play at first on a ground ball to prevent a run-scoring opportunity. In the fifth, Ham again threw a runner out at second after a wild pitch rolled away, but not far enough to stop Ham from gunning out the runner.

Eastern Wayne used a two-out rally and an Aycock miscue to pad its lead in the sixth inning. With Garrett Sutton at first base and two out, Vinson executed a perfect single to left for a hit-and-run that moved Sutton to third. Vinson went to steal second, but the throw snaked through the infield and into center field, scoring both Vinson and Sutton for a 3-0 advantage.

"We had defense called on first and third there, and we didn't execute," said Davis. "If we execute, we're probably out of the inning and it's one run."

Aycock scratched a run across in the bottom of the sixth when Matthew Waddell reached base after being hit by a pitch, moved to second on a ground out and scored on Bennett Jeffrey's single to left. A miscue moved runners to second and third, but Lancaster escaped further damage with a strikeout to end the inning.

In the seventh inning, Aycock got the tying and go-ahead runs on base after a close play at first base loaded the bases.

The runner at third, who apparently thought the count on Nik Pappas was full, broke from third on 2-2 count and was tagged out to end the game.

"Most definitely, we've gotta win now," said Davis. "It just depends on -- deep down -- how hard we want to play and how bad we want to get into the playoffs."

Eight Falcon seniors -- Cunningham, Waddell, Pappas, Josh Pate, Josh Kirby, Jarrod Gouty, Gaston Lopez and scorekeeper Matthew Ruffin -- were recognized in their final regular-season home game.

Eastern Wayne 001 002 0 -- 3 6 3

C.B. Aycock 000 001 0 -- 1 6 1

Leading hitters -- Eastern Wayne -- Chris Davis 2-3, HR, RBI; Matt Hemenway 1-3, 2B, RBI. C.B. Aycock -- Josh Pate 2-3; Bennett Jeffreys 1-3, RBI; Nik Pappas 1-3, 2B.


Eastern Wayne

Jesse Lancaster (W) 7 6 1 1 1 8

C.B. Aycock

Philip Cunningham (L) 7 6 3 2 1 11

WP -- Cunningham 2.