04/18/06 — Warriors shut out again

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Warriors shut out again

By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on April 18, 2006 2:08 PM

KINSTON -- On a mid-April afternoon that felt more like mid-July, Eastern Wayne right-hander Tyler Ham endured the heat on the mound and actually got stronger as the Warriors' game against Watauga went into the late innings.

However, much like their first game in the George Whitfield Invitational, Eastern Wayne's hitters never got on track in a 3-0 loss to the Pioneers on Monday at Kinston High School.

The Warriors (6-11) have not scored and have managed just three hits in two games against Lee County and Watauga at the Invitational. In the last four games, Eastern Wayne has posted only three runs in 26 innings.

"We've only got one or two players hitting the ball right now," Eastern Wayne coach Jabo Fulghum. "We've just got to keep playing ... we're struggling a little bit. Against mediocre pitching, you've got to be able to tattoo the ball."

Watauga junior right-handers Logan Bailey and Lee Ammann combined on a two-hit shutout as Bailey went the first four innings and picked up the win -- yielding just one hit with three strikeouts and two walks. Ammann came on in the fifth and retired nine of the 12 batters he faced, also giving up just one hit.

The duo benefited from an errorless defensive performance behind them as the Pioneers (8-10) made every routine play. Third baseman Ethan Moyer turned in a stellar stop to his left in the sixth -- robbing the Warriors' Nolan Lancaster of a single, then tossing across to first for the final out of the inning.

"We played good defense all day. That's the way we've been all year ... we're not going to score a lot of runs and our pitchers aren't going to knock the bats out of people's hands," Watauga coach Pete Hardee said. "We've got to play good defense and execute offensively."

Facing Ham, the Pioneers pushed across one in the second as Michael Nigro squeeze bunted Michael Butler home with one out. Butler started the inning with a single, followed by Kyle Greene's double down the left field line -- setting up second-and-third.

Watagua ran the bases aggressively and took advantage of a trio of Warrior errors in the third as Eric Brienstein drove in one run with a single, while Devin Presnell brought home the visitors' third and final run with a sacrifice fly to center.

The three runs proved to be plenty of cushion for Bailey and Amman, who weren't overpowering, but consistently stayed ahead in the count and let the defense work behind them. The Warriors hit a handful of balls on the nose, but most were either right at a Pioneer or foul down the line.

In the last four innings, Ham settled into a rhythm and got improved defense behind him as the senior retired 13 of the last 15 batters he faced. Ham, who yielded just one earned run, finished with seven strikeouts against just one walk and one hit batter, but suffered a hard-luck loss.

"Ham has been a positive all year. He's been a blessing," Fulghum said. "He's a competitor and a battler and he's going to give you everything he's got. Maybe that's what we need, more of that competitive edge from everyone."

Today, the Pioneers will play at 2 p.m. against the loser of Greene Central and D.H. Conley as the third and final day of the tournament shifts to Grainger Stadium. Monday's Greene Central-Conley and Lee County-South Central games were rained out and moved to today, starting at 11 a.m. at Kinston High.

"We want to see some of the best teams in the state, and I feel like in baseball it gets better the farther east you go," Hardee said. "We want to see the best baseball and the best coaching we can see, and we see that every year when we come down here."

The Warriors, who were missing two starters (one due to injury and one with a death in the family) on Monday, take on Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference foe, Kinston, in a battle of 0-2 tournament teams at 11:30 a.m. today at Grainger.

Watauga 012 000 0 -- 3 4 0

Eastern Wayne 000 000 0 -- 0 2 3

Leading hitters -- Watauga -- Eric Brienstein 1-3, RBI; Michael Butler 2-3, run; Kyle Greene 1-3, 2B. Eastern Wayne -- Tyler Ham 1-3, 2B; Michael Mintz 1-3.


Watauga (8-10)

L. Bailey (W) 4 1 0 0 2 3

L. Ammann (S) 3 1 0 0 1 2

Eastern Wayne (6-11)

T. Ham (L) 7 4 3 1 1 7