04/13/05 — Eagles serve notice in victory

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Eagles serve notice in victory

By News-Argus Staff
Published in Sports on April 13, 2005 1:57 PM

One local baseball team has been extremely successful in their outings to date, while lurking under the radar screen of attention.

No more.

After their five-inning, 14-3 thrashing of visiting Cape Fear Academy, Wayne Christian Academy served notice that it is the team to beat in Class 1-A Carolina Christian Conference play.

Coach Tim Brannon's Eagles remain undefeated at 6-0. Cape Fear, ironically with the same nickname, returned to Lillington with a 5-3 record.

"Frankly, I was expecting more of a dog fight," said Brannon. "We beat them 9-5 a week or so ago. They seemed to be a little bit tight."

Defensive breakdowns were Cape Fear's undoing. In only four innings, the Eagles threw five wild pitches, allowed seven stolen bases, were assessed four pass balls, hit two batters, and committed five errors. As a result, starter and losing pitcher Michael Thomas surrendered only two earned runs.

Meanwhile, Wayne Christian's trio of starter Tyler Thomas, and relievers Kyler Pender and Adam Brannan were sparkling. They only gave up four hits and one earned run. Thomas, who was forced to leave at the beginning of the fourth inning when his back tightened, picked up his fourth consecutive win.

Cape Fear simply could not get a handle on Wayne Christian's off-speed pitches.

"It's just a very slow over the top curveball," said Brannon. "Our strategy is very effective," he said. "Their hitters were way out in front practically all the time. When we change speeds, our fastballs don't have to be that fast."

Wayne Christian scored at least one run in each of the four innings it batted. The Eagles' big inning was the third. Fifteen batters went to the plate scoring 11 runs to break a 2-2 tie.

J.D. Hightower, Andrew Bass, and Jordan Yelverton each scored twice. Jeremy Jefferson, T.A. Brannon, and Billy Smith wielded the big sticks during the game, each recording two hits. Jefferson and Smith recorded back-to-back triples.

Cape Fear was not without its scoring chances. Double plays killed threats in both the first and fourth innings when the visitors had loaded the bases. Brannan, only a freshman, retired the side in the final two innings on clutch strikeouts.

Brannon also cited the defensive prowess of his catcher, Bass. "Even when things were a little rocky, he was all over the place blocking everything. I don't think he had a passed ball.

"I feel great about our chances in conference," he said. "Our pitching is a little thin, but I think we'll be there."

Wayne Christian travels to Northwood Temple for a doubleheader on Friday.