04/15/05 — Golden Falcons shut down Class 1-A power N. Johnston

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Golden Falcons shut down Class 1-A power N. Johnston

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on April 15, 2005 1:57 PM


PIKEVILLE -- The anticipated pitching matchup between right-handers Jenny Jackson and Candace Evans didn't materialize until the later innings Thursday evening on the Charles B. Aycock diamond.

Before Jackson closed the door on Evans and her North Johnston teammates, Golden Falcon right-hander Julia Lancaster enjoyed her best outing of the season. The sophomore yielded two first-inning hits, but never wavered in Aycock's 4-0 non-conference victory.

Lancaster (4-1) retired nine of the final 10 batters she faced and recorded five strikeouts. The Panthers hit into two groundouts and three infield pop-ups during that stretch.

Jackson provided three innings of no-hit relief, striking out five en route to her second save of the season.

"My dynamic duo," a grinning Aycock coach David West said. "We asked Julia to give us four innings and said 'we're behind you.' She had some confidence from pitching so well last week. Jenny came in and closed. They're both playing off each other real well right now.

"This is the competition we want ... teams that are in the top three, four or five in the state every season. I thought tonight we played an excellent ball game."

The Panthers (9-1) endured their first defeat since a season-ending loss against North Brunswick in last year's N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 1-A playoffs.

"They're a good, solid team, and that's why we wanted to play them late in the season," veteran North Johnston coach George Daniels said. "We don't see that much (competition) during the year. Our conference this year is not as strong as it's been in the past.

"We weren't prepared for that kind of pitching."

Or hitting, for that matter.

Aycock roughed up Evans for four earned runs on eight hits, including a double and a triple. Jasmine Dobbin and Kandace Burroughs emerged the Golden Falcons' top batters with two hits apiece in a combined six plate appearances.

Jazzmine Lee, who stole three bases, tallied the game-winning run in the second inning. The senior right fielder fell behind 0-2 in the count, but eventually drew a walk off Evans. Lee stole second and beat the throw to third on Rusti Talton's fielder's choice.

Denied with runners in scoring position in the first inning, West called for the squeeze bunt again with Chrissy Setliff at the plate.

"I promised myself that if we got back to first and third with no outs, we were going to go with that squeeze again," West said.

Setliff laid down a perfect bunt that died just inside fair territory on the spongy infield. Lee slid home safely a mere second before Evans flipped the ball to catcher Whitney Parrish.

Evans' streak of 44 innings without allowing an earned run ended on the play. Aycock also snapped North Johnston's streak of four consecutive shutouts.

The Panthers never answered offensively.

"We knew all along we needed this kind of competition to prepare us for the playoffs because the pitching is not going to be as slow and weak that we see during the regular season," Daniels said. "We took too many third strikes and I can't stand that (and) too many full cuts.

"We're not used to playing behind, so that was an experience for us tonight."

Burroughs laced a one-out triple to right center field in the third and scored on Jenny Jackson's groundout. Lee singled, stole two bases and scooted home on Talton's base hit to left.

Burroughs plated Jasmine Dobbin, who singled, for the game's final run in the fourth.

Aycock (9-3) emerged victorious at home for the fifth time in six tries this season.

Notes: Daniels collected his 250th career victory at North Johnston last week -- a 14-0 no-hitter against county rival Princeton. ... Aycock's Burroughs had five putouts at first base. ... Talton and Ashley Morris combined for 10 putouts -- all strikeouts -- behind the plate for the Golden Falcons. ... Evans had seven strikeouts for the Panthers.