Patriots deny Saints in key ECC 3-A tilt
By Neil Fuller
Published in Sports on May 1, 2005 2:08 AM
DUDLEY -- The road into the N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs just got a bit bumpier for the Southern Wayne baseball team.
A pair of sophomore infielders delivered when it counted most Friday night as visiting West Carteret dealt the Saints a 6-5 setback in a pivotal Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference matchup.
Scooter Johnson's first-career homer -- a two-run shot to center field -- tied matters in the top of the sixth, and C. J. Fallin delivered an RBI double later in the inning that served as the game-winning hit.
The win keeps the Patriots (13-5, 9-3 ECC 3-A) in a three-way tie for second place in the conference standings alongside Eastern Wayne and C.B. Aycock, which defeated West Craven earlier in the night.
Conference-leading South Central (10-3) was idle. The ECC 3-A will send three teams into the postseason.
"I didn't talk a whole lot about the importance of this one coming in," West Carteret coach Robby Lasater said. "I did talk to the guys about winning one game at a time. We're just going to take this race one game at a time. That's what everybody is probably trying to do. You slip just one time, and you can get left out of the whole kitty.
"Forget the conference championship, one slip can cost you (a playoff berth)."
Southern Wayne, which entered the game as one of five teams with three conference loses, now finds itself on the outside looking in with four games remaining on the schedule.
Saints coach Trae McKee acknowledged the missed opportunity.
"It was a hard-fought ball game," McKee said. "It was tough for anybody to lose this one. I hate that it was us. We have a logjam at the top of this conference because of the way each team goes out and competes. Every team knows just how important every game is now."
Josh Narron provided Southern Wayne (13-6, 8-4) a 5-3 lead with a two-run double in the fifth inning. It would be the last hit for any Saints batter.
Patriots right-hander Lonnie Chisenhall picked up the win in relief of starter Drew Poulk, striking out five. Chisenhall pitched back-to-back perfect innings to end the game.
"I was hoping to save Lonnie until next week," Lasater said. "But we needed him tonight. He might have to start on Tuesday. He didn't throw too many pitches tonight. I'm just trying to win each game, that's my approach. I'm sure the other coaches are feeling the same way."
Austin Hood went 3-for-4 with a double to lead Southern Wayne, and Logan Porter scored two runs.
The Saints will look to regain their previous momentum -- eight wins in nine games -- on Tuesday with a road date at Washington. Game time is 7 p.m.
"We're not going to quit. Our kids aren't going to give up," McKee said. "We've got to stay positive. We've just got to keep having fun playing the games. We've got to keep coming back to the yard, getting quality at-bats and having quality pitching.
"We're going to be in this thing."
Notes: Southern Wayne took a 6-0 win at West Carteret on March 22. ... Ashton Langston absorbed the pitching loss for Southern Wayne, scattering nine hits over 52/3 innings of work. ... The top three batters in the West Carteret lineup were a combined 6-for-11 at the plate. ... Southern Wayne stranded five baserunners. ... Matthew Holloman and Garrett Barfield had an RBI each for Southern Wayne. ... West Carteret C Brad Campen went 2-for-2 with a walk and was hit by a pitch.
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