05/19/04 — Southern Wayne advances in baseball playoffs

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Southern Wayne advances in baseball playoffs

By David Williams
Published in Sports on May 19, 2004 1:58 PM

ANGIER -- The surprising story of Southern Wayne baseball 2004 will go on for another game.

The Saints, who lost their first five Eastern Carolina Conference games and had to win a play-in game to earn a postseason berth, stayed alive again after beating Harnett Central 4-2 Tuesday in the opening round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association's Class 3-A playoffs.

Ashton Langston three a complete-game four-hitter, using a tight curve and mixing in a popping fastball to handcuff the Trojan hitters. The Saint defense did its part with just one error and consistently doing the little things to stop the Big Eight South champions from mounting a comeback.

"I am super proud of this team," said Southern Wayne coach Trae McKee, who was still shivering from a post-game water cooler splashing, courtesy of his players. "They've been through a lot."

The Saints will take on ECC champion West Carteret on Friday in Morehead City for the second round of the playoffs. The Patriots knocked off South Johnston to advance.

Langston, who moved to 8-3 on the season with the victory, had a remarkable performance despite hitting five batters. It was Langston's second straight complete-game victory.

"He probably leads the nation in hit batsman," McKee said. "That's his game -- go inside and keep it on the batter's hands. Sometimes the ball gets away. But he jammed them up all night long."

Langston coaxed numerous ground balls out of the Trojan batting order, and the defense took care of business from there.

Harnett Central starter Trevor Smith had thrown three innings of perfect baseball to open the game, but the fourth inning started on an error when Nathan Fail's ground ball was bobbled at first base. Two batters later Austin Hood made the Trojans pay for the error, booming a home run over the fence in right-center field for a 2-0 lead.

"That gave us a lift," said McKee. "Coach (Brad) Reaves and I were talking before that, saying we just need one run to break the ice. Austin came through for us with a big hit."

In the sixth, it was Chris Pearsall -- in only his third game back from a broken finger -- that swung a hot bat. Pearsall stroked his second double of the game -- a shot to center field that burned the defender -- to score Matthew Holloman and pinch-runner Michael Hudson and gain a 4-0 lead. Moments before, McKee called a double steal that moved the runners into scoring position with two out to set up Pearsall's RBIs.

Pearsall hit his first double in the fifth inning, a ground-rule job that bounced out over the right field fence.

"He's been big for us since he came back in the West Craven game," said McKee.

Defensively, Southern Wayne bailed Langston out twice in the late innings, giving up one run each in the sixth and seventh innings after taking on no-out situations with two runners on base.

Harnett Central ended it's year at 14-8.

Even the most die-hard of Saints fans would have doubted Southern Wayne (14-11) would still be playing judging by the team's situation back at Easter, but now the team gets its chance to knock off its second straight conference champion.

So. Wayne 000 202 0 -- 4 5 1

Harnett Cent. 000 001 1 -- 2 4 1

Leading hitters -- Southern Wayne -- Austin Hood 1-3 HR, 2 RBI; Chris Pearsall 2-3, 2 2B, 2 RBI. Harnett Central -- Kyle Hayes 1-4, RBI; Cody Goforth 1-2, RBI.


Southern Wayne

Ashton Langston (W, 8-3)

7 4 2 2 0 2

Harnett Central

Trevor Smith (L) 7 5 4 3 0 8

HBP-Justin Miller 2, Shaw Scott, Cody Goforth, Zack Binsham (by Langston).