03/30/05 — Warriors find late-inning heartbreak in Greenville

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Warriors find late-inning heartbreak in Greenville

By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on March 30, 2005 2:02 PM

GREENVILLE -- Eastern Wayne and Carrick (Pa.) High may or may not ever meet again on a baseball diamond.

Their first meeting on Tuesday afternoon -- at the Jimmie R. Grimsley Hot Stove Baseball Tournament -- proved to be a heartbreaker for the Warriors.

Carrick, a school in Pittsburgh, Pa., benefited from five walks and one hit batter and erased an 8-0 deficit in the bottom of the seventh, eventually defeating Eastern Wayne 9-8 in the bottom of the 10th.

Winning pitcher Ryan Cisar started the 10th with a single to left off of Warrior freshman Michael Mintz, who got two ground outs that moved Cisar's courtesy runner to third. With Bobby Fuchs at the plate, a wild offering bounced off of catcher Tyler Ham as the winning run raced home.

"You preach, 'it's not over until it's over,' and every once in a while you can live it," Carrick coach David Aromatorio said.

Eastern Wayne starter Airlon Vinson, who helped his cause with three hits and two RBI at the plate, seemed well on his way to his third win of the season. The left-hander consistently worked ahead, walking only two in five innings. Vinson gave up an average of one hit per inning, but finished with six strikeouts and managed to work out of several jams -- keeping Carrick off of the board.

The Raiders stranded eight runners during Vinson's scoreless stint, including two in the bottom of the fifth.

"If we had a few more guys on this team with a heart like Airlon Vinson, we would be alright," said Warrior coach Jabo Fulghum.

Eastern Wayne sophomore Taylor Sutton pitched around two walks and a single by Fuchs in the sixth and carried a seemingly commanding 8-0 advantage into the seventh.

In a wild eighth that saw Sutton and teammate Chris Davis combine to walk five, hit one batter and have one costly error committed by the infield, Carrick patiently sent 13 batters to the plate and tied the game at 8-8. Two of Sutton's four walks and Davis' one walk and hit batter scored runs with the bases loaded.

Clinging to an 8-6 lead, Fulghum re-entered Vinson into the game on the mound as Brandon Graney knocked a two-run double to left-center on Vinson's first offering, tying the score. Shawn Gruendel and Josh Cidric added key hits during the eight-run rally for the Raiders (1-2).

The two-bagger by Graney proved to be the only extra base hit allowed by Vinson who went on to throw two more gritty, scoreless innings in the eighth and ninth. In a rare, two-appearance game, the senior lefty had 10 total strikeouts and five walks in 71/3 innings and gave up no runs.

The Warriors (5-4) scored all eight of their runs in innings three-through-five. Eastern Wayne struck out only once in the 10-inning game and consistently put the pressure on the Carrick defense. Joye Moye and Vinson had RBI singles in a three-run third, while John Yates and Tyler Mitchell, who doubled, knocked in one run each in the fourth.

One inning later, Vinson scored Moye with a double to left-center as Trey Johnson brought home the final run with a sacrifice fly. The Raiders had three errors in the third and one more costly miscue in the fifth, leading to four total unearned runs off of starter T.J. Gault.

"We played poorly to get ourselves in that hole," Aromatorio said. "I'm happy we stayed in the game and got some breaks, but you can't get yourself in that big of a hole and hope to comeback."

Cisar entered in the top of the fifth with two outs and managed to keep the Warriors off of the board through the final 51/3. Eastern Wayne threatened against the right-hander in the seventh as Joey Burridge and Mintz supplied back-to-back hits with one out, but Cisar retired the next two he faced to escape further damage, then tossed three perfect innings to finish off the win.

"That was huge. The junior that came in, he gave us a chance," Aromatorio said. "We gave up five runs in the first inning against Greenville Rose yesterday, and we had a kid who came in and did the same thing. Everything that happened down here was great, because this was the first three games we have played all year."

The Raiders would like to return to the annual, round-robin tournament next season, but Aromatorio is unsure if the schedule will work out the same next season.

"We sure enjoyed ourselves this year. It was a great competition and a beautiful stadium," Aromatorio said. "All of these teams would be top-notch teams in our area."

The Warriors return to action next week against a pair of Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference and Wayne County rivals -- hosting Southern Wayne on Tuesday (April 5) and making the short trip to Charles B. Aycock on Friday (April 8).