05/12/04 — Gators win Carolina baseball crown

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Gators win Carolina baseball crown

By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on May 12, 2004 2:03 PM

KENLY -- Spring Creek baseball coach Roger May's concerns about his team following a disappointing performance in the Deacon Jones Invitational Easter Tournament must seem like a distant memory.

The Gators captured at least a share of the Class 1-A Carolina Conference championship and capped an unbeaten 6-0 second half of conference play with a convincing 11-2 win at North Johnston on Tuesday.

Spring Creek (15-9, 9-3 Carolina) is currently one game ahead of Ayden-Grifton in the win column, with the Chargers slated to battle Farmville Central tonight. Even with an Ayden-Grifton win, the Gators will have the conference's top seed heading into the N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs, by way of defeating the Chargers twice during the regular season.

Spring Creek will host the Super Six Conference's third seed on May 18 and will have home-field advantage through the eastern playoffs. The playoff brackets will be released Sunday.

Due to his ejection during last week's extra-inning win over Ayden-Grifton, May missed Tuesday's tilt and will miss the first-round playoff game. Assistant coach Matt Bryan got his first victory at the varsity level on Tuesday.

"We came out of the Easter tournament a little slow, and it's unbelievable the turnaround these guys had," Bryan said. "They did the little things. The seniors ... I give all of that to the seniors. They've stepped up and these guys are starting to gel together."

"I can't take the credit for this though. This is Coach May's."

North Johnston (11-12 overall) finished at 4-8 against conference foes.

Tuesday's win saw Spring Creek bang out seven runs on six hits in the first two innings with balanced hitting through the order.

Five different Gators knocked in runs during the outburst, highlighted by ninth-hitter Derek Kirby's two-run double to left field off Panther starter Jay Edwards.

Kirby -- along with Michael Sigmon, Josh Lewis, Randy Amos and Norman Sites -- had two hits each. Sigmon had two doubles from the clean-up spot, while Jes Snyder added a first-inning triple to the opposite field -- over the right fielder's head. Spring Creek finished with five extra base hits.

"We stayed back and kept our hands back tonight. We've been working on that the whole year and it's finally come around," Bryan said. "Coach May has been preaching that all year and they did a heck of a job."

The big offensive start proved to be more than enough for Amos, one of Spring Creek's seven seniors. Amos, who picked up the complete-game win, had command of the strike zone through the game. The right-hander yielded only two walks -- both in the seventh inning with an 11-2 lead.

Amos hurled a shutout through the first five innings, allowing only an infield single in the second and a two-out triple by Adam Verrill in the fourth. With North Johnston's Michael Corbett at the plate, Amos picked off courtesy runner Michael Pope third to end the threat.

The Panthers eventually scratched for two runs in the sixth, only one of which was earned, but Amos went on to strike out the final two batters he faced in the sixth and blanked North Johnston in the seventh.

"It's a lot easier when your team is hitting the ball, and they got it done for me," Amos said.

Spring Creek tacked on single runs in the fourth and sixth on RBI singles by Amos and Lewis off of North Johnston reliever Brad Holloman. Blake Thompson and Sites each doubled in the seventh off of Jonothon Hodge, while Jed Potter added a fielders-choice RBI to cap the scoring.

By games end, all but one starter drove in a run.

"This wasn't just me, it was everybody. We are a third-year program and this is what we've been working towards," Amos said. "This is a team. Something clicked in, and we started gelling and kept going."

The win clinched Spring Creek's first conference title in a revenue sport (baseball, basketball, football).

Sp. Creek 250 101 2 -- 11 13 2

N. Johnston 000 002 0 -- 2 5 1

Leading hitters -- Spring Creek -- Michael Sigmon 2-4, 2 2B, RBI, 2 runs; Josh Lewis 2-4, 2 RBI; Randy Amos 2-4, RBI; Norman Sites 2-4, RBI, 2 runs; Derek Kirby 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI. North Johnston -- Brad Holloman 1-2, RBI; Adam Verrill 1-3, 3B; Kris Lutz 1-2, 2B.


Spring Creek

Randy Amos (W) 7 5 2 1 2 3

North Johnston

Jay Edwards (L) 11Ú3 4 5 5 1 0

Brad Holloman 42Ú3 7 4 3 1 3

Jonathon Hodge 1 2 2 2 0 1