04/22/05 — Baseball -- SW claims key ECC win at Aycock

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Baseball -- SW claims key ECC win at Aycock

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on April 22, 2005 2:02 PM

PIKEVILLE -- "Time, blue."

Southern Wayne coach Trae McKee called Joseph Davis over to the third-base coach's box and reminded him to relax at the plate. Caught looking at a third strike his first at-bat, Davis heeded McKee's advice and slapped the ensuing pitch into the left center-field gap.

The bases-clearing double ignited a six-run, second-inning uprising and spearheaded the Saints to an 8-4 conquest of county rival Charles B. Aycock on Thursday evening. Southern Wayne seized its sixth consecutive win and climbed into second place in Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference play at 8-3 -- mere percentage points behind leader West Carteret.

The Golden Falcons (10-6, 7-3) suffered just their second home defeat of the season and tumbled into a three-way, third-place tie with South Central and Eastern Wayne.

Leading 1-0, the Saints (11-5) put together a two-out rally in the third.

Two walks and a fielder's choice loaded the sacks for Davis, who worked Aycock right-hander Garrett Davis to a 2-2 count in his first plate appearance before striking out.

"His first at-bat, I thought, was great. He fouled off some tough pitches early and then he got hit in the foot," McKee said. "I told him 'look bud, your first at-bat was awesome. You got caught looking, but you're seeing the ball well.'

"He came up with a big hit for us."

Davis laced a one-strike fastball into the gap, which fired up the Southern Wayne faithful in attendance. Brady Wiggins reached on a dropped third strike and Aycock committed two errors on the play.

Davis easily scored. Wiggins crossed home on Michael Steward's double into right center field. The Saints led 7-1 at that point.

"They got momentum and we tightened up some," Aycock coach Charles Davis said.

Southern Wayne added an unearned run in the fourth. The Golden Falcons' Davis, who got saddled with his first loss in four starts, loaded the bases before giving way to reliever Grant Sasser.

A left-hander, Sasser provided three innings of one-hit, five-strikeout relief.

Coach Davis reverted back to the opening inning when the Saints posted a run in the top half. Aycock put runners on the corners with no outs, but failed to scratch and seemed to lose focus from that point.

"Two nights in a row, we've had chances in the first inning and that's been the key," coach Davis said. "If you can ever score first, especially in the first inning, that seems to set the tone.

"We didn't."

Saints right-hander T.J. Hinson, now 2-1 in three starts, yielded five hits in four-plus innings. The Golden Falcons stranded seven runners during that stretch and left 10 men on base overall in the seven-inning affair. In the last 14 innings, Davis' squad has left 21 runners on base.

Hinson encountered trouble in the fifth and loaded the bases when he hit Travis Bartlett. Right-hander Matthew Holloman took the mound and hit one batter to allow a run.

Joseph Toler plated Aycock's second run in the inning and closed the gap to 8-3 on a groundout to third base. A throwing error led to the Golden Falcons' final run in the sixth inning.

Hinson and Holloman combined for six strikeouts.

"T.J. threw the ball last week against Kinston and did a great job tonight," McKee said. "T.J. stepped up tonight in a big way."

Holloman emerged the Saints' top batter with a 4-for-4, one-RBI effort.

Thomas Pilkington paced Aycock with three hits and an RBI in four trips to the plate. Bradley Taylor batted 2-for-3.

The Saints beat the Golden Falcons for the third straight time and fourth overall in their last five meetings.

"I've just got a good bunch of boys who like to play," a grinning McKee said. "I really didn't have to tell them anything before the game. All day in school, it's (the game) that's been built up. We played two quality ball clubs earlier this week in South Central and Hoggard.

"They were ready to play."

Notes: Catcher David Combs recorded six putouts defensively, while SS Austin Hood and 1B Josh Narron had three putouts apiece. ... Ashton Langston came off the bench to collect three putouts at first base when Narron moved to third. ... C Bennett Jeffreys notched five putouts and three assists for Aycock. ... 2B Joseph Toler contributed four putouts and three assists. ... The Golden Falcons are the guest of Kinston next Tuesday. ... The Saints visit West Johnston on Monday.