Aycock juniors easily qualify for tourney
By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on July 22, 2004 1:55 PM
When Aycock decided to start a American Junior Legion program, reaching the state championship tournament wasn't necessarily an underlying goal in its first year.
It was designed to give more young players the opportunity to play against good competition.
After a sparkling performance Wednesday night in a 10-0 win over Fuquay-Varina at the Eastern North Carolina Tournament at the Eastern Carolina Athletic Park, the first-year program looked as deserving as any to compete against the state's elite.
Keyed by a one-hit, shutout performance by Brandon Price and balanced, authoritative hitting, Aycock now moves on to the state tournament after the five-inning win over Post 116. Play begins in the double-elimination tourney July 27 at Catawba College in Salisbury.
Aycock, the sixth seed in the eastern tourney, won its sixth in a row and improved to 19-4 on the season.
"We've continued to get better and better. I don't know how much longer it will last, but we've played really well lately," Aycock coach Ed Spence said. "We knew we had an outstanding bunch of JV players. We are pleasantly surprised."
A rising sophomore right-hander at C.B. Aycock, Price got all the run support he would need -- and more -- during an eight-run outburst in the top of the third.
Lead-off hitter Will Spence started the rally with a one-out double to left-center field as four runs would come across against Post 116 starter Corey Carver before he recorded another out. With two outs in the inning, Aycock posted four more runs, capped by Jackson Massey's three-run home run over the center field fence. The blast was Massey's third of the year and gave Aycock an 8-0 lead.
Chris King, Bennett Jeffreys, Aaron Kline and Cortez Gilbert all recorded hits during the rally, with Jeffreys and Kline driving in two runs each.
Aycock scored its final two runs one inning later as Jeffreys, who reached on the second of three hit batsmen by Fuquay-Varina reliever Zach Boroski, scored on a wild pitch. Gilbert drove home Bradley Taylor with a double off of the base of the left-field fence to push the advantage to its final margin at 10-0.
After giving up a lead-off single to Post 116's Blake Stephenson, then walking Jonathan Hart to start the second, Price and the Aycock defense settled into a rhythm.
Price didn't give up another hit and yielded just one more base runner, who reached on an error with two outs in the bottom of the fifth. In the third and fourth, Price threw just 11 pitches as the defense backed him with sound, fundamental play.
"He (Price) had really good stuff. They hit some balls hard, but we made some nice plays in the field behind him," Spence said. "We were pretty flawless in the field until that last inning, but that didn't hurt us."
Aycock's Taylor contributed a lead-off triple in the second and a two-out double in the fifth in a 2-for-3 effort.
Along with Aycock, Cary Post 67, Cape Fear Post 62 and Kinston Post 43 also qualified on Tuesday night for the nine-team state tournament.
In tonight's elimination games, Fuquay Varina, the tournament's third seed, faces fifth-seeded East Duplin as Garner (#1) faces Sanford (#7) . Both games are at 7 p.m. at the ECAP.
Eastern N.C. American Junior Legion State Tournament
(at Eastern Carolina Athletic Park)
#6 Aycock 008 20 -- 10 10 1
#3 Fuquay-Varina 000 00 -- 0 1 4
Leading hitters -- Aycock -- Bennett Jeffreys 1-3, 2 RBI, 2 runs; Bradley Taylor 2-3, 3B, 2B; Aaron Kline 1-3, 2 RBI; Cortez Gilbert 2-3, 2B, RBI; Jackson Massey 1-2, HR, 3 RBI. Fuquay-Varina -- Blake Stephenson 1-2.
LOB -- Aycock 8, Fuquay-Varina 3. SB -- Taylor SF -- Kline.
IP H R ER BB SO
Price (W) 5 1 0 0 1 3
Carver (L) 22Ú3 7 8 8 2 3
Boroski 1 2 2 2 2 1
Bradley 11Ú3 1 0 0 0 0
WP -- Carver. HP -- Spence, Jeffreys, Cole (by Boroski).
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