Golden Falcons escape Saints with sixth-inning rally
By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on May 12, 2006 2:12 PM
PIKEVILLE -- As long as these same six teams compose the Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference, it is very likely the league will continue to hold a postseason league tournament.
There may be many more to follow, but it is safe to say the inaugural ECC baseball title game -- between archrivals Charles B. Aycock and Southern Wayne -- will not soon be forgotten.
Down 2-0 with two outs in the bottom of the sixth, Aycock seniors Will Spence and Jackson Massey both delivered two-strike, run-scoring hits against Saints' senior right-hander T.J. Hinson to tie the game.
One batter later, Garrett Davis' infield grounder was misplayed, allowing Massey to race home from second with the game-winner as the Golden Falcons claimed the "rubber match" against the Saints, 3-2.
Wedged between a pair of strikeouts by Hinson, Aycock's K.C. Kartch also added a key hit in the sixth. Kartch's pinch-runner, Brandon Price, advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored his team's first run on Spence's single.
"I just couldn't imagine losing twice to Southern Wayne. In a big rivalry like this, you just try to step up as much as you can," said Massey, who doubled home Spence from first to make it 2-2.
After Aycock's dramatic rally, Davis, who entered the game in relief of Massey in the sixth, quickly struck out the side on 12 pitches in the seventh to improve to 7-1 on the season.
The two teams split a pair of games in ECC play and tied for the regular season title.
Aycock's win on Thursday broke the tie as the Falcons (24-2) earned the league's No. 1 spot for the N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs next week. Aycock will host the Coastal Conference's No. 2 team -- likely D.H. Conley -- on Tuesday.
Also on Tuesday, the Saints (16-9) will open the playoffs on the road as they will travel to the NEW Six's No. 1 seed, Rocky Mount.
"We had a great regular season and a good conference tournament. Unfortunately, we came up on the short end of the stick tonight," Southern Wayne coach Trae McKee said. "We're now one of 48 teams left. We've got some great seniors on this team ... we just need to rally around them and pick it up a notch."
Before the Falcons' three-run sixth, Hinson was cruising. The righty, who picked up a win just one week earlier against Aycock, gave up just two hits in the first five innings of work and faced the minimum 15 batters during that stretch.
Hinson (6-3) had just two strikeouts in the first five, but issued no walks, as his defense consistently made the plays behind him. The Saints "turned two" twice -- a controversial 3-6-3 twin-killing in the first, then a 5-4-3 double-play in the middle of a steady downpour in the fifth.
Jackson Massey and Bennett Jeffreys got Aycock's only two hits in the first five innings.
"T.J. mixed up his pitches well, but I think we were a little down mentally," Aycock coach Charles Davis said. "We were very quiet in the dugout, until that sixth inning where we started making some noise."
Hinson went the distance, yielding five earned runs on seven hits with four strikeouts and no walks.
Facing Jackson Massey, Southern Wayne pushed across a run in the first as Austin Hood's double to right center scored Garrett Barfield, who started the game with a walk.
Jackson Massey matched Hinson with scoreless work over the next 3 2/3 innings, before the Saints got their final run in the fifth on Chris Massey's two-out RBI single through the left side - bringing home Brady Wiggins.
Chris Massey and Dave Overman provided a key sacrifice bunt to move runners over to second before Hood and Massey's RBIs in both innings.
"We've been preaching, 'when you execute, good things happen,'" McKee said. "You get rewarded when you play team baseball."
Massey finished with three strikeouts against one walk and allowed two runs on five hits in five innings of work in the no-decision.
Hinson and teammate David Combs, who finished 2-for-3, posted a pair of one-out hits against Davis in the top of the sixth, then moved to second-and-third on Ashton Langston's groundout. Davis kept the Saints from extending their 2-0 lead with a strikeout to end the inning -- starting a string of four straight "Ks" to end the game.
The Falcons played errorless defense behind Massey and Davis.
"Jackson did a good job of keeping us in the ball game, then Garrett comes in for the first in a relief role this year and through the ball extremely well," Charles Davis said.
NOTES: For the second time in as many games between the two rivals, the team with the least hits won ... Both of Aycock's victories against the Saints were by one-run margins ... The Falcons have won 16-of-17 heading into the playoffs.
2006 Class 3-A
(at C.B. Aycock HS, Pikeville)
Southern Wayne 100 010 0 -- 2 7 1
C.B. Aycock 000 003 x -- 3 5 0
Leading hitters -- Southern Wayne -- Austin Hood 1-3, 2B, RBI; Chris Massey 1-3, RBI; David Combs 2-3; Brady Wiggins 1-3, run; Ashton Langston 1-3; T.J. Hinson 1-3. C.B. Aycock -- Will Spence 1-3, RBI, run; Jackson Massey 2-3, 2B, RBI, run; K.C. Kartch 1-2; Bennett Jeffreys 1-3.
IP H R ER BB SO
T.J. Hinson (L, 6-3) 7 5 3 2 0 4
J. Massey 5 5 2 2 1 3
G. Davis (W, 7-1) 2 2 0 0 0 4
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