CBA tightens ECC playoff race
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on May 11, 2005 2:07 PM
Don't fill in that playoff bracket yet.
Charles B. Aycock turned in an impressive performance -- offensively and defensively -- Tuesday evening against county rival Eastern Wayne and kept its postseason dream alive.
Sophomore left-hander Grant Sasser scattered three hits in a complete-game effort as the Golden Falcons humbled the Warriors 10-0. The six-inning triumph allowed C.B. Aycock to remain mathematically alive for one of the Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference three playoff berths.
Should the Golden Falcons (15-8, 10-5 ECC) win out and Eastern Wayne lose its regular-season finale today against Kinston, the teams will finish tied for third in the league. The loss gives Aycock the third seed.
However, Southern Wayne becomes another playoff component if the Saints collect two wins and create a three-way tie. The teams can't break the tie head-to-head due to regular-season sweeps of each other. Therefore, a drawing of numbers will determine the teams' postseason fate.
A Warrior win erases the potential drama.
"It's going to get very interesting," Eastern Wayne coach Jabo Fulghum said.
C.B. Aycock and Eastern Wayne entered the contest on the opposite ends of the emotional spectrum. The Golden Falcons endured an embarrassing loss Monday against South Central, while the Warriors seized a key win at archrival Southern Wayne.
But C.B. Aycock played with a "nothing-to-lose" attitude against Eastern Wayne, which appeared tense and tight on every pitch.
"Very tight," Fulghum said. "I can't answer that one. If I could, I would."
The Golden Falcons took relaxed approaches at the plate and roughed up left-hander Airlon Vinson for four earned runs in the opening inning. Travis Bartlett delivered a two-strike, two-RBI single. Joseph Toler provided a two-out, two-RBI double.
Toler finished with two hits, including a fifth-inning home run.
"We got the whupping put to us, so we want to put the whupping to somebody else," said Toler, who drove in five runs. "We showed heart and that's the biggest thing. A loss is a loss, so you've got to finish playing the season.
"We just wanted to come out and play with pride ... still had something to play for."
Sasser effectively used the four-run cushion to his advantage. Using a good mixture of off-speed pitches, he retired the first seven batters he faced. Billy McKinley ruined Sasser's perfect-game bid with a seeing-eye single in the third inning.
Toler turned an inning-ending double play to erase McKinley, who was just one of five base runners for the Warriors. Jesse Lancaster reached twice on a double and error, while Joey Moye doubled in the sixth. Sasser walked Mintz in the fifth.
"Grant has really thrown the ball well for us the last two weeks," Aycock coach Charles Davis said. "He was just having fun out there. Bennett Jeffreys did a fantastic job behind the plate calling the game. Grant hit his spots and good things happened.
"He kept them guessing ... with a change-up and slow curveball. Then he throws a little cutter, which is more or less a sharp curveball. He threw them all for strikes."
Sasser induced five ground-ball outs, two infield pop-ups and picked one runner off base at first. That's not to mention seven strikeouts, including four in the fifth and sixth innings combined.
"Sasser shoved it up our tail," Fulghum said.
Jackson Massey furnished a two-run home run, his second of the season, in the fourth inning. Toler's three-run bomb was his second of the year.
"I had two strikes on me and I saw the curveball come," Toler said. "I just watched it all the way in and swung at it. I was trying to get as much out of it as I could."
Eight Golden Falcon starters contributed at least one hit apiece.
C.B. Aycock concludes regular-season play at home Thursday against Washington.
Fulghum is anxious to see how the Warriors (13-8, 11-4) respond to the loss. He plans to start McKinley on the mound against the Vikings, who have just two ECC wins this season.
"We're either going to bounce back or we'll come out here tomorrow flat," said Fulghum. "It's up to us what we want to do."
Notes: Jeffreys led the Aycock defense with seven putouts, while Bartlett added six at first base. ... SS Will Spence collected three assists in the first inning. ... Eastern Wayne 1B Ward Lane had a game-high eight putouts. ... C Tyler Ham had four putouts and an assist before getting hit by a pitch and leaving the game.
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