05/05/06 — Saints seize share of ECC 3-A regular-season baseball crown

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Saints seize share of ECC 3-A regular-season baseball crown

By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on May 5, 2006 2:06 PM

DUDLEY -- Not surprisingly, the showdown between Charles B. Aycock and Southern Wayne -- with Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference regular-season supremacy on the line -- came down to the fundamentals of baseball.

On Thursday night, the Saints were outhit 8-1, but were simply better in the field.

Southern Wayne senior T.J. Hinson turned in a controlled, complete-game effort and benefited from errorless play by his defense as the Saints claimed a 4-2 win on Senior Night over Aycock.

The Saints (15-8 overall) and Falcons (22-2 overall), who split a pair of games in the regular season, finished in a tie at the top of the ECC -- both with identical 9-1 records.

A coin toss was held late this morning to determine which team would be the top seed in next week's league tournament. The result of the toss was unavailable at press time.

"Whatever happens we're just going to be prepared going into Tuesday's game," Southern Wayne coach Trae McKee said. "Everything takes care of itself when you play well."

Hinson (6-2) yielded the first run of the game on an RBI single by Bennett Jeffreys -- scoring Will Spence, who singled to start the first.

Hinson, one of six Saints' seniors, would yield at least one hit in five of the final six innings. But Aycock failed to score again until the seventh, when starting pitcher Garrett Davis smashed a solo home run to start the inning -- pushing the score to the final margin.

With help from his defense, Hinson never allowed the Golden Falcons to put together a sustainable rally. The righty struck out just three against no walks as the Southern Wayne defense made every play behind him.

In the top of the third, Saints' center fielder Tyler Edwards cut down Jackson Massey trying to go from first-to-third on a single up the middle by Jeffreys for the third out of the inning.

First baseman Ashton Langston made a tough grab in shallow right field on a blooper by Massey in the fifth, then teamed with Hinson to finish off Southern Wayne's stout defensive game with a tough 3-1 putout to just get Massey racing to first for the final out of the game.

"We made some really big plays defensively. Tyler Edwards made a big throw at third with the meat of their lineup coming up," McKee said. "And we made the routine plays ... you can always compete when you do that."

Davis, a junior right-hander, gave up just one hit in five innings of work -- a two-out, RBI single by Brady Wiggins in the second. Doogie Niemond, who scored twice as Hinson's courtesy runner, easily came home from third on the play. David Combs, who reached on the first of five Aycock errors, also raced home to give his team the lead for good at 2-1 when the left fielder bobbled Wiggins' single.

After a 1-2-3 third inning, defensive miscues and control problems burned the Falcons in the fourth and fifth. Davis (6-1) recorded three of his seven strikeouts in those two innings, but Aycock committed three more costly errors and one passed ball as Davis issued a pair of walks and three wild pitches.

The miscues led to two more Saints' runs, which proved to be plenty of run support for Hinson.

None of Davis' runs allowed proved to be earned in his first loss of the season.

"We didn't get it done at the plate, we had some miscues defensively and they capitalized on them," Aycock coach Charles Davis said. "Garrett threw good enough to win. You give up one hit and we have eight hits, you expect to win.

"It's unfortunate for us, but it was their night tonight."

Massey came on in the sixth and continued his solid work out of the Falcons' bullpen -- striking out the side swinging.

Hinson, Combs, Langston, Austin Hood, Willie Koernig and Aaron Massey played in their final regular season home games for the Saints.

Both Aycock and Southern Wayne are assured of first round byes into Tuesday's semifinals, and the team that advances farther in the tourney will then assume the conference's No. 1 spot for the N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs. The only way both teams will not advance to the playoffs is if a team seeded No. 3 or lower wins the league tourney.

C.B. Aycock 100 000 1 -- 2 8 5

So. Wayne 020 110 x -- 4 1 0

Leading hitters -- C.B. Aycock -- Garrett Davis 1-3, HR, RBI; Bennett Jeffreys 2-2, RBI; Evan Medford 1-3, 2B. Southern Wayne -- Brady Wiggins 1-1, RBI, run.


C.B. Aycock

G. Davis (L, 6-1) 5 1 4 0 3 7

J. Massey 1 0 0 0 0 3

Southern Wayne

T.J. Hinson (W, 6-2) 7 8 2 2 0 3