04/05/06 — Hinson limits Hunt to two hits

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Hinson limits Hunt to two hits

By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on April 5, 2006 2:21 PM

DUDLEY -- Coming off of three straight impressive wins and solid team efforts, Southern Wayne's 11-5 victory over Wilson Hunt on Tuesday wasn't one of the Saints' prettiest performances of the season.

The home team had four uncharacteristic errors leading to two unearned runs, and besides a pair of five-run innings against erratic Warrior pitching, the Saints were inconsistent offensively.

Still, one constant held true -- Southern Wayne's starting pitching continued to impress in Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference play.

T.J. Hinson, a senior right-hander, yielded just two hits and two runs (both unearned) in six innings of work. Staying ahead of Hunt's hitters, he walked one and struck out one, and save a shaky fourth inning by his defense, the righty got help behind him.

After Hinson's effort, Southern Wayne's starters still haven't given up an earned run in four ECC outings. Hinson (3-2), who threw a no-hitter last Tuesday against Wilson Beddingfield, Ashton Langston and David Combs have combined to allow just three hits in 26 innings of work as starters.

"We do have a little competition between us ... We just all try to step it up when we go out and pitch," Hinson said. "It's better when you get ahead and stay ahead of your hitters."

Saints coach Trae McKee gave the ball to Sterling Grice in the top of the seventh, but Grice struggled with control -- walking five of the eight batters he faced. Hunt's Marshone Sauls and Travis Lemmons both scored on wild pitches, while Brian Hooper came home on a bases-loaded walk to make it 11-5.

Grice's final walk propelled McKee to call on Combs to get the final out. After taking off his catcher's gear, Combs did just that -- getting Zack Strickland on a pop up to finish off the win.

After his team improved to 7-5 overall and 4-0 in league play heading into Friday's showdown at county rival and fellow conference-unbeaten, Charles B. Aycock, McKee applauded Hinson but knows his team clearly didn't turn in their best effort.

"Each one of them has taken the baseball and said, 'it's my turn.' We know they are going to be in the strike zone and competing on every pitch, and we seem to play well defensively," he said. "Tonight wasn't our best effort all around, but fortunately you can still win some games like that.

"I'd much rather have an ugly win than a pretty loss."

Hunt starter Barrett Parker, who got the loss in just 1/3 of an inning of work, and reliever Tyler Davis combined for six straight walks in the bottom of the first as the Saints scored their first five runs on bases-loaded walks. Lead-off man Garrett Barfield and third-hitter Austin Hood posted singles against Parker in the first.

Southern Wayne went up 6-0 in the second on Combs' sacrifice fly -- scoring Hood, who also reached on a walk, then stole second and third.

Hinson allowed just one hit and two base runners in the first three innings, before Hunt (3-10, 1-3 ECC) got on the board with a pair of unearned runs in the fourth. Blake Jones and John Barnes both reached on infield errors and came home on Strickland's two-run double to left. Southern Wayne made one more infield miscue in the fourth, but Hinson escaped further damage.

The Saints quickly responded in the bottom of the fourth against Davis. Dave Overman and Barfield posted clutch two-RBI singles during another five-run rally -- pushing the score to 11-2. Hunt aided the outburst with an error, two hit batters and a wild pitch.

The Warriors' Justin Nygard, a sophomore, tossed the final two innings, pitching around a pair of walks and yielding no runs on no hits. Overall, Hunt walked nine and hit two.

"We're young on the mound. We've only got senior and he hasn't pitched a lot," said Hunt coach Steve Hinnant, who's team hosts Wilson Beddingfield on Friday. "But, you've got to score runs to back them up, and we didn't do that early."

Southern Wayne was unable to finish off the win by mercy rule as it left five on base (three in scoring position) and had three runners called out on the bases -- one each in the last three innings.

Friday's ECC action concludes the first half of league play.

Wilson Hunt 000 200 3 -- 5 3 1

So. Wayne 510 500 x -- 11 6 4

Leading hitters -- Wilson Hunt --John Barnes 1-3, RBI; Zack Strickland 1-4, 2B, 2 RBI; Travis Lemmons 1-3. Southern Wayne --Garrett Barfield 2-4, 2 RBI; Dave Overman 2-3, 3 RBI; Austin Hood 1-3, 3 runs; Willie Koernig 1-3, 2 runs.


Wilson Hunt (3-10, 1-3)

B. Parker (L) 1/3 2 5 5 3 0

T. Davis 32/3 4 6 1 4 2

J. Nygard 2 0 0 0 2 1

Southern Wayne (7-5, 4-0)

T.J. Hinson (W, 3-2) 6 2 2 0 1 1

S. Grice 2/3 1 3 3 5 1

D. Combs 1/3 0 0 0 0 0