Saints' Langston throws one-hit shutout at Rocky Mount
By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on May 17, 2006 2:22 PM
ROCKY MOUNT -- Southern Wayne right-hander Ashton Langston's senior season likely will not go down as his easiest.
Working back from shoulder surgery, the 6-foot-5 hurler is unbeaten at 7-0, but he has battled through appearances where his command and velocity were not quite as sharp.
In the first round of the Class 3-A N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs on Tuesday, Langston -- and his defense -- were in prime form as the Saints claimed a 2-0 win at Rocky Mount.
The win sends Southern Wayne (17-9) into a second round contest at former Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference foe, West Carteret (21-2), on Friday. The Patriots, ranked No. 1 in the latest ImpactBaseball.com 3-A poll, defeated Jacksonville White Oak, 8-1 on Tuesday behind a stout effort on the mound by South Carolina signee, Lonnie Chisenhall.
Rocky Mount, the NEW Six Conference champion, finished the season at 19-6 overall.
Langston yielded just one hit, a one-out infield single by Dillon Cockrell in the third, and six total baserunners in the complete-game effort. He walked three and hit one, but the Gryphons never managed to rally as the defense turned in near-flawless play behind him.
The senior, who finished with five strikeouts, mixed his pitches well and even dropped down to a side-arm delivery on several occasions -- keeping the home team off-balanced.
"My stuff is better than it was in the past few outings ... I feel a lot better than I did earlier in the season," Langston said. "We've played hard all season, and we didn't want it to be one game and out."
The righty's defense committed one error in the fourth, but the same inning would come to a close on the second-of-two unconventional double-plays from the outfield. Right fielder Willie Koernig caught a sinking line drive off the bat of John Hunt, then fired to first baseman Chris Massey to double off Brian Goodwin for the third out of the fourth.
One inning earlier, center fielder Tyler Edwards snagged a fly ball in shallow center and tossed a strong throw to Massey -- catching Cockrell off the bag to end the third.
"We made two big plays ... Tyler's and Willie's plays kept the wheels from running off," said Saints' coach Trae McKee, who picked up his second playoff win in five years. "Ashton's movement and velocity was back. He stayed in the zone and let the defense make plays behind him."
Offensively, the Saints left seven stranded in the first five innings but managed to do something no team has done all season against Gryphons' sophomore left-hander Ryan Waldrep -- score an earned run.
Southern Wayne struck for an unearned run in the first as Massey reached on an error, then later scored on an RBI single by Koernig to make it 1-0. Waldrep (4-1) pitched around singles by Brady Wiggins, who had two hits, and Massey in the second and third, respectively, before the Saints tallied their final run in the fourth.
Designated hitter T.J. Hinson and catcher David Combs -- both seniors -- delivered back-to-back doubles to start the fourth to push the score to 2-0. The earned run allowed was Waldrep's first in 43 1/3 innings of work this year.
"He's pitched really well this year, and he's just a sophomore," Rocky Mount coach Pat Smith said. "I think he'll continue to blossom and work at getting better."
After Combs' double to left plated Hinson, the southpaw yielded no runs and just two more hits in the final 3 2/3. Waldrep retired the final eight batters he faced and finished with seven strikeouts against just one walk -- yielding one earned run on seven hits.
McKee believes his team's tough non-conference schedule and rivalry-filled Eastern Carolina Conference slate was key in helping his team advance into the second round.
"We're tested. I really believe you get better by playing good teams," he said. "That wasn't the first good left-hander we've seen, and I think that makes a big difference."
2006 Class 3-A
(at Rocky Mount)
So. Wayne 100 100 0 -- 2 7 1
Rocky Mount 000 000 0 -- 0 1 3
Leading hitters -- Southern Wayne -- Brady Wiggins 2-3; Willie Koernig 1-3, RBI; T.J. Hinson 1-3, 2B, run; David Combs 1-3, 2B, RBI. Rocky Mount -- Dillon Cockrell 1-2.
IP H R ER BB SO
Langston (W, 7-0) 7 1 0 0 3 5
Waldrep (L, 4-1) 7 2 1 1 1 7
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