05/01/05 — Aycock easily dismantles West Craven

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Aycock easily dismantles West Craven

By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on May 1, 2005 2:08 AM

PIKEVILLE -- Charles B. Aycock's 12-2 win at home on Friday against West Craven started with a blast and ended with a bomb -- both delivered by a couple of sophomores.

Lead-off hitter Bradley Taylor, who finished with three hits and three RBI, opened his teams' nine-hit effort with a solo home run to straight-away center field. Six innings later, Grant Sasser came off the bench to seal the win with a towering, walk-off shot well into the trees behind the left-center field fence -- ending the game due to the 10-run rule.

The homers were the first of the young, varsity careers of Taylor and Sasser.

The win helped the Golden Falcons (13-6) keep pace with the five teams at the top of the Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference as Aycock improved to 9-3 against league foes. With two weeks left, the Falcons, Eastern Wayne and West Carteret all are 9-3 -- mere percentage points behind 10-3 South Central. Southern Wayne isn't too far behind at 8-4.

Only the top three teams advance to the N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs.

"It doesn't get any easier. But, we've talked all year long about wanting to earn it. We don't want it handed to us," Aycock coach Charles Davis said. "The teams we are tied with, we play again. It's right there for us."

The Eagles (6-13) dropped to 5-8 in the ECC.

Another sophomore, right-hander Garrett Davis, gave up no earned runs and only one hit, while striking out seven in six innings of work. The fire-baller improved to 4-1, mostly working ahead in the count against the Eagles with the exception of four walks -- none of which scored.

West Craven got its only two runs off Davis in the top of the second when Chris Ipock doubled home Jeremy Brown, who reached on an error, then scored on Chris Hagen's ground out. Five more Eagles reached base after Ipock's double, but Davis and the Aycock defense kept the visitors off of the scoreboard.

"Sometimes people forget to realize he's just a sophomore. This is still his first time at varsity competition," Davis said. "He didn't have a real good performance against Southern Wayne last week, but he's a battler up there."

Offensively, the Falcons broke open a 4-2 game in the bottom of the fourth with a seven-run fourth. Aycock sent 12 batters to the plate as Taylor, Bennett Jeffreys, Thomas Pilkington and Jackson Massey delivered RBI singles. A trio of West Craven pitchers -- starter Tim Creech and relievers Jason Ipock and Zach VanVoorhees -- aided the rally with four walks and one wild pitch. The Eagle defense compounded matters with one error and two past balls.

"West Craven opened the door for us, but we have picked it up a little bit since last week ... two losses last week and three wins this week," Davis said. "They stayed focused, and we are swinging the bat pretty well. This team has bought into the team concept."

VanVoorhees pitched a scoreless fifth and got one out in the sixth, before Sasser smashed a 3-2 fastball out of the park for the game winner. By the end of the game, nine different Falcons scored and seven posted hits. West Craven walked eight batters total.

"Our lineup is filled with hitters," Taylor said.

Aycock struck for two runs in the first and second, respectively. Taylor started the scoring with a solo homer to center on Creech's third pitch. A steal of home by Jeffreys' courtesy runner Greg Tipton -- set up by an early-steal by Travis Bartlett -- made it 2-0 later in the inning.

Drew McGowan started the second with an infield single, moved to second on a wild pitch, then raced to third on an errant throw by the catcher. Taylor and Will Spence followed with back-to-back, run-scoring doubles to help Aycock take a 4-2 lead -- answering West Craven's two-run second.

Notes: Next week, Aycock travels to West Carteret Tuesday and hosts South Central Friday in ECC play. ... The Falcons host Wilson Beddingfield in a non-conference game contest on Wednesday. ... Friday's win was Aycock's 40th in league play since 2002 against 16 losses. ... During the same stretch, West Craven is 28-29.