04/10/05 — Aycock fends off late Warrior charge

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Aycock fends off late Warrior charge

By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on April 10, 2005 2:07 AM

PIKEVILLE -- With a 5-1 lead in the bottom of the sixth and sophomore right-hander Garrett Davis cruising with a two-hitter, Charles B. Aycock's double-steal and two-run RBI by catcher Bennett Jeffreys seemed a minute detail.

The late-game offensive execution proved to be huge in the Golden Falcons' 7-5 win over the Warriors as the first of two regular-season meetings between the Wayne County rivals finished in dramatic fashion.

After Davis' walk to Tyler Mitchell set up first and second with two outs in the top of the seventh, Jesse Lancaster's deep fly ball to left center field was dropped by Bradley Taylor -- easily scoring Trey Johnson and Mitchell making the score 7-5.

With Lancaster racing around the bases, Taylor recovered the ball, then tossed a strike to shortstop Will Spence. The junior turned and quickly fired the relay to third baseman Thomas Pilkington, who applied the tag onto a head-first sliding Lancaster for the final out of the game.

"Bradley didn't panic. That was very big for him not to panic," Aycock coach Charles Davis said. "He picked up it, and

threw a strike to Will, who threw a strike to Thomas. You're talking about two sophomores and a junior in a key situation."

Aycock (8-4) and Eastern Wayne (6-5) now have identical 5-2 records in the Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference and are tied for second behind South Central (6-1).

Keyed by Spence's three-run, second-inning home run to left -- his first as a varsity performer -- Aycock charged to a 5-1 lead after two. The second-of-three untimely Warrior errors and the first-of-two executed double steals called by third base coach Derek Matthews aided the rally.

"You've got to give a lot of credit to our assistant coaches Derek Matthews and Allen Thomas," Davis said. "They've done a real good job with our hitters this year."

From there, Garrett Davis and Eastern Wayne left-hander Airlon Vinson settled into a pitcher's duel. Beginning with the final out of the first, Davis sat down 14 in a row and 16-of-17, mostly working ahead with his 90-plus miles-per-hour fastball and inducing ground outs.

Davis (2-0) faced just two three-ball counts during the hitless stretch with his two walks coming in the seventh. Nearly two-thirds of his outs were groundball outs and only one of his five runs allowed were earned.

"He's got a lot of heart on the mound. I think our pitchers just try to let the defense work out for them," said Jeffreys about his battery mate. "It'll be the same way through his whole career. You've just got to throw strikes."

Vinson (3-1) was equally effective and matched the sophomore in the middle innings. The senior tossed three perfect, middle innings and put down 11 straight before Jackson Massey reached on an error in the sixth with two outs.

Vinson yielded just one hit to the last 16 batters he faced -- Jeffreys' two-out single to left on a high fastball -- scoring Massey and Bradley Taylor, who walked. Three of Vinson's seven runs allowed were earned.

"He didn't let the second inning get to him," Eastern Wayne coach Jabo Fulghum said. "He's the type of kid who will stay in there with us."

Jeffreys' hit was preceded by a double-steal of second and third by Massey and Taylor, and an intentional walk to Spence to load the bases. Taylor added an RBI single to right in Aycock's second-inning rally and scored twice on the night.

Eastern Wayne's seventh-inning rally started with a walk to the catcher Ham. His courtesy runner, Carlos Jones, advanced to second by knocking the ball out of the second baseman's glove with a head-first slide after a ground ball off the bat of Chris Davis was fielded.

Michael Mintz moved the runners up with a ground out, before Johnson smacked a two-run single to center to plate Jones and Davis to make it 7-3.

"We played extremely hard. We got down a little bit and got behind, but the kids were trying to find a way to comeback," Fulghum said. "Jesse's play was big because it ended the game, but there were a lot of other things we did earlier that cost us."

The Falcons travel to Washington on Tuesday, while Eastern Wayne goes to Kinston the same day. Four of both team's next six ECC games are on the road.

Notes: Spence finished with six assists from short, while Joseph Toler had three assists at second base. ... Lancaster had three assists and one putout at second for EW. ... The Warriors stranded two base runners, while Aycock left six on the bases. ... A 10-minute rain-delay halted play before the top of the sixth. ... Since 2002, the two teams have nearly identical records in league play -- CBA is 36-15, while EW is 35-16.