04/02/06 — Warriors survive ECC affair against Beddingfield

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Warriors survive ECC affair against Beddingfield

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on April 2, 2006 10:17 AM

Even on your worst day, a win is a win.

Eastern Wayne overcame numerous mental mistakes and its depleted pitching staff yielded just six hits in a 4-2 victory over Wilson Beddingfield on Friday evening. Tyler Ham, the starting catcher, earned the save in relief and the Warriors picked up their second win in three tries against Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference opposition.

The Bruins exited 2-12 overall and 0-3 in the league. All three defeats have come against Wayne County schools.

"We're very fortunate," said Eastern Wayne coach Jabo Fulghum. "We're still improving every day, but we've just got to get mentally tough. When you make mental mistakes, you're going to get beat."

Not this time ... luckily.

Missed signals on the bases and at the plate haunted Eastern Wayne throughout the seven-inning affair. Joey Burridge's two-RBI single and a solid performance from three pitchers saved the Warriors in their 11th outing of the year.

Starting right-hander Michael Mintz threw just 30 pitches in the first three innings and limited the Bruins to one hit. Middle reliever Taylor Sutton surrendered two earned runs on walks, but managed to avoid further damage in a three-inning stint.

Ham provided one inning of two-strikeout relief after Sutton hit the lead-off batter in the seventh.

"This is our third conference game (in five days)," said Fulghum, whose team is 5-6 overall. "Taylor started on Monday. Mintz started on Tuesday and didn't throw but two innings. We piece-mealed this game a little bit and I knew Mintz was going to run out of gas.

"I figured Taylor had two or three good innings left. Ham came in and spotted it up well."

Mintz faced 10 batters and looked sharp the first three innings. He induced four ground-ball outs, one infield pop-up and notched two strikeouts during that stretch.

Several Bruins hit either the first or second pitch Mintz offered.

"I gave them a few more take signs because they were real anxious (in the box) and I just wanted them to be patient, get a good pitch," said Beddingfield coach Jody O'Neal. "Their pitcher got a little bit behind in the count and we were able to capitalize on it."

But not to O'Neal's liking.

The Bruins sent 18 batters to the plate in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings combined. Sutton issued three walks and hit one batter, while Beddingfield banged out five hits -- including RBI singles from Chris Jones and Marqui Ransome (3-for-3) in the fourth inning.

However, the ECC newcomers stranded seven runners -- all in scoring position -- during that stretch. The Bruins left 10 runners on base overall.

"We just didn't get the hits with people on base," said O'Neal.

Tied at 2-2, the Warriors answered in the bottom half of the fourth.

John Wooten laced a one-strike single to right field and advanced to second when Chad Sutton reached on an error. Johnson walked Walker Gourley to load the bases, which set up Burridge -- a senior outfielder -- for the game-winning single.

"A huge hit," said Fulghum. "That's the sign of a team that wants to win and our kids are hungry."

Burridge emerged one of six starters with a hit for the Warriors. Ham concluded the day 2-for-3 at the lead-off spot. Gourley doubled in the second inning and later scored on a wild pitch.

O'Neal admitted Burridge's base hit hushed his team's comeback.

"That's been our story (all season). It seems like when we make a little run, we don't close it out the next inning defensively," said O'Neal. "We're not good enough to play catch up the whole game. We have to get out in front."

The teams continue ECC play next Tuesday. Beddingfield faces Kinston in a battle of winless conference teams, while Eastern Wayne travels to state-ranked Charles B. Aycock -- the co-ECC leader at 3-0 with Southern Wayne.

Wilson Beddingfield 000 200 0 -- 2 6 3

Eastern Wayne 110 200 x -- 4 6 0

Leading hitters -- Wilson Beddingfield -- Marqui Ransome 3-3, RBI; Chris Jones 1-4, RBI; Dale Batchelor 1-2. Eastern Wayne -- Tyler Ham 2-3; John Wooten 1-3; Walker Gourley 1-2, 2B; Joey Burridge 1-2, 2 RBI; Chris Brown 1-2.

LOB -- Beddingfield 10, Eastern Wayne 2. SB -- Ransome, Frederick, Brown. SH -- Joyner, Bass.


Beddingfield (2-12, 0-3)

Johnson (L, 1-3) 7 6 4 2 1 4

Eastern Wayne (5-6, 2-1)

Mintz (W) 4 3 2 2 2 3

T. Sutton 2 3 0 0 1 0

Ham (S) 1 0 0 0 0 2

Sutton threw to one batter in seventh.

WP -- Johnson. HBP -- Rodgers (by Sutton), Batchelor (by Sutton).

T -- 1:49.