Saints bow out with extra-inning loss
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on May 21, 2006 2:17 AM
MOREHEAD CITY -- C.J. Fallin delivered the game-winning RBI in the eighth inning and top-ranked West Carteret escaped Southern Wayne 2-1 on Friday evening on the Crystal Coast.
The Patriots (22-2) earned their second consecutive trip to the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 3-A eastern semifinals, and will entertain league rival D.H. Conley next Tuesday.
The Saints, absent from the playoffs a year ago, finished the season 17-10 overall.
"We played a great ballgame," said a misty-eyed Southern Wayne coach Trae McKee, who choked back tears. "We just came up one run short."
Stellar defensive play and gut-wrenching pitching from T.J. Hinson helped fuel Southern Wayne's upset bid over their former Eastern Carolina Conference rival. The Patriots claimed their second straight postseason win over the Saints and lead the series 4-3 since 2003.
Shortstop Austin Hood made three back-handed grabs in the hole and connected with Ashton Langston on putouts at first base. The 6-foot-5 Langston also saved his defense by snagging three high throws and concluded the extra-inning affair with nine putouts.
Garrett Barfield made a spectacular over-the-fence grab in left field and robbed Drew Poulk of a third-inning home run. Overall, every player in the Southern Wayne lineup recorded either an assist or a putout during the game.
"We played great defense and that's been the make-up of our club all season," said McKee. "Even when other teams shut it down during batting practice, we're still taking balls off the bat."
Hinson (7-3) survived trouble in the second, third and fifth innings -- but managed to come out unscathed. The senior right-hander yielded two earned runs on seven hits and recorded four strikeouts in the complete-game effort.
West Carteret left nine of 12 runners stranded through the first five innings. The Patriots batted 0-for-10 with those runners in scoring position and left a total of seven men at either second or third base.
"T.J. threw his butt off out there," said McKee.
Southern Wayne scratched out a 1-0 lead against Patriot right-hander Drew Poulk, who has signed with North Carolina, in the third inning. Garrett Barfield provided a two-out base hit to shallow right center and scored on Chris Massey's double into the right center-field gap.
"That gave us a little lift right there," said McKee.
Poulk retired the next 13 batters he faced and posted four strikeouts.
"It wasn't that Poulk was keeping us off balance," said McKee. "We had some good pitches to hit and hit some 'at-em' balls. When you're facing a good pitcher like that, it's tough; and every time you get a good piece of the ball, you have to put it in play hard.
"Hits will come when you do that."
Hinson surrendered a third-inning, solo home run to South Carolina signee Lonnie Chisenhall. But neither Chisenhall (2-for-3) nor Poulk (1-for-4) could manufacture any more offense and both were left stranded at second and third base, respectively, in the fifth. The Patriots left the bases loaded after Hinson issued a one-out walk to third baseman Brandon Johnson.
"T.J. worked his way out of a second-and-third (situation) with nobody out jam," said McKee. "That's just being competitive and trusting in what you've done all year by making big pitches."
Hinson retired eight of the next nine batters he faced before reaching the eighth.
Tied at 1-1, the Saints' Brady Wiggins worked Poulk to a 3-2 count to start the eighth. The second baseman fouled off three consecutive pitches before lacing a double to left field. The Patriots' defender tracked the ball well, but had to change direction when the ball got caught in the swirling wind and dropped in front of him.
After a pop-up on a bunt attempt, Wiggins took third on Dave Overman's sacrifice bunt. Poulk ended the inning with a strikeout.
Hinson hit catcher Stephen Barnes to start the Patriot eighth, but smartly threw to second on a fielder's choice bunt. Hinson plunked Matt Martin and Frankie Smith loaded the bases with a single to left field.
Fallin (2-for-4) followed a sacrifice fly to right field. J.D. Jackson, Barnes' courtesy runner, slid safely under David Combs' tag at the plate for the game-winning run.
The season-ending contest marked the final prep outing for seniors Hood, Langston, Hinson, Combs, right fielder Willie Koernig and outfielder Aaron Massey. The six players accounted for three postseason appearances and emerged the ECC co-champions this season, which gave McKee his first conference title as head coach.
"One thing I can say about this senior class is that they're the most competitive bunch of kids that I've ever coached," said McKee, whose team manufactured five runs in its final three contests -- a span of 22 innings.
Notes: Hinson threw 16 pitches in the final two innings combined and West Carteret hit the first pitch on five occasions. ... Southern Wayne is 11-12 all-time in playoffs since 1980. ... The Patriots have won 42 of their last 50 games, including a 5-1 record in the postseason. ... West Carteret 1B James Varner and Grant Kelley combined for 10 putouts.
2006 Class 3-A
(at West Carteret HS, Morehead City)
So. Wayne 001 000 00 -- 1 3 2
W. Carteret 001 000 01 -- 2 7 0
Two outs when game-winning run scored.
Leading hitters -- Southern Wayne -- Garrett Barfield 1-4; Chris Massey 1-3, 2B, RBI; Brady Wiggins 1-3, 2B. West Carteret -- C.J. Fallin 2-4, RBI; Lonnie Chisenhall 2-3, HR, RBI; Drew Poulk 1-4, 2B; Thomas Chalk 1-4, 2B; Frankie Smith 1-2.
DP -- West Carteret 1. LOB -- So. Wayne 3, West Carteret 12. HR -- Chisenhall. SB -- Hood, Chisenhall, Morton. SH -- Overman. SF -- Fallin.
IP H R ER BB SO
Hinson (L, 7-3) 72/3 7 2 2 3 4
Poulk (W) 8 3 1 1 1 7
HBP -- Barfield (by Poulk), Barnes (by Hinson), Martin (by Hinson).
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