04/19/06 — Warriors snap four-game skid

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Warriors snap four-game skid

By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on April 19, 2006 2:03 PM

KINSTON -- A little "chalk talk" on Monday afternoon seemed to go a long way in helping Eastern Wayne claim an 8-5 win over Kinston on Tuesday afternoon at Grainger Stadium in both team's finales in the George Whitfield Invitational.

Following the Warriors' disappointing, 3-0 loss to Watauga on Monday -- their fourth straight setback -- veteran coach Jabo Fulghum took his team into the gymnasium and broke down some of the basics of hitting upon their return to Eastern Wayne.

Keep your eye on the ball.

Make contact.

Hit hard ground balls and line drives.

On Tuesday, Eastern Wayne's upper and lower classmen from one-through-nine in the batting order struck out just once and followed those simple, yet important instructions. It resulted in a 12-hit performance -- the Warriors' best output in weeks.

"It was pouring rain and lightning outside yesterday, so he just went over the basics for about an hour. I think it really helped us out," Warriors' catcher Tyler Ham said. "We hit a lot more ground balls today, and we didn't strike out as much either."

Eight different Eastern Wayne (7-11) players had hits, led by Michael Mintz (3-3), Walker Gourley (2-4, 2 RBIs) and Jackson Frederick (2-4, 2B, RBI), while seven Warriors drove in runs. In the third inning, Joey Moye's run-scoring triple off Kinston's Adam Spence got Eastern Wayne on the board as Ham followed with a single to score Moye to push the visitors' lead to 2-0.

After RBI's by Frederick and pinch-hitter Taylor Sutton in the fourth and fifth, respectively, the Warriors increased their margin to 4-1, before the Vikings put together their own balanced rally.

In the bottom of the fifth, Kinston (0-16) sent 10 batters to the plate and pushed across four runs against Eastern Wayne starter Anthony Otellio and reliever Mintz as the host team went ahead, 5-4. Mike Wetherington's two-run single tied the game at 4-4 and chased the left-handed sophomore, Otellio, from the game. Mintz, also a sophomore, struggled in relief -- walking one to load the bases, then hitting Alex Spence with a pitch to bring home a run and give Kinston a one-run lead.

Freshman John Wooten (1-0), who picked up his first varsity win, came in to record the final two outs of the fifth and finished out the game. Wooten yielded just one unearned run on two hits with two strikeouts and two walks.

Down by one, the Warriors answered in the top of the sixth for four runs as Chris Brown reached on a bunt single to start the rally against Adam Spence, while Gourley, Mintz and Joey Burridge provided three straight singles against reliever Andy Spence to help Eastern Wayne re-gain the lead at 8-5. Kinston, which had three errors, aided the rally with an infield miscue.

"We just simply don't know how to win yet, but we're working on it," Kinston coach Eddie Loesner said. "We've got some young kids that are starting to do some good things and all we can do is keep grinding."

Eastern Wayne's fifth and final error preceded Antonio Whitfield's RBI single in the sixth against Wooten to push the score to its final margin. Andy Spence provided a two-out single to right in the sixth, but Warrior right fielder, Nolan Lancaster caught the ball on a hop and tossed a strike to Ham at the plate -- cutting down Whitfield trying to score from second for the final out of the inning

Wooten tossed a 1-2-3 seventh to finish off the win.

Otellio, making his first varsity start, didn't give up an earned run and yielded only one hit through the first four innings before Kinston's fifth-inning outburst. The southpaw finished with four strikeouts and five walks.

"Otellio gave us more than what I expected. He threw ground balls, but we just booted it behind him," Fulghum said. "We also made some good plays in the infield and outfield ... Nolan made a great throw to get the guy at home plate. We did a lot of good things today, we've just got to build on it."

Andy Spence endured the loss for the Vikings in two innings of relief work.

For Ham, who turned in a solid overall game behind the plate, playing at Grainger Stadium will be an experience he will likely always remember.

"It's a great feeling. It pumps you up and makes you work hard when you see how good people have it (at this level)," Ham said. "It makes you want to be able to have this or something more."

When Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference play resumes on April 25, Eastern Wayne travels to Wilson Hunt, while Kinston hosts Charles B. Aycock.

E. Wayne 002 114 0 -- 8 12 5

Kinston 000 141 0 -- 6 7 3

Leading hitters -- Eastern Wayne -- Michael Mintz 3-3; Walker Gourley 2-4, 2 RBIs; Jackson Frederick 2-4, 2B, RBI; Joey Moye 1-3, 3B, RBI. Kinston -- Mike Wetherington 1-2, 2 RBIs; Hines Guttenberger 1-3, 3 runs.


Eastern Wayne (7-11)

A. Otellio 41/3 5 5 4 5 4

M. Mintz 0 0 0 1 0

J. Wooten (W, 1-0) 22/3 2 1 0 2 2


Ad. Spence 5 9 5 5 2 1

An. Spence (L) 2 3 3 1 2 0

Mintz faced two batters in the fifth; Ad. Spence faced one batter in the sixth.