Wayne 15U team pulls surprise; 13U team ousted
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on July 16, 2006 2:11 AM
SEVEN SPRINGS -- One Wayne County journey to an Eastern N.C. District 4 Babe Ruth baseball crown ended in disappointing fashion, but another team remained alive in its championship quest.
Right-hander Greg Champion collected his second mound victory within an eight-hour period as Wayne County's 15U team upended Johnston County 10-6 late Saturday evening. The victory sets up a winner-take-all showdown at 4:30 p.m. today on the Spring Creek High School diamond.
The district champion earns a berth in the Eastern N.C. State tournament at Lumber River, which begins Thursday morning.
Lloyd Davis, another right-hander, fired a two-hitter and Wilson County eliminated pre-tournament favorite Wayne County 11-1 in 14U play. Wilson opposes unbeaten Greene County at 2 p.m. today in the championship round and must win twice to keep its season alive.
The winner moves on to the ENC State tournament in Roanoke Rapids, which also begins Thursday morning.
Champion threw the first three innings in the nightcap against Johnston County, which dealt Wayne County a 13-1 loss on Wednesday. Kevin Prunest pitched the fourth and fifth innings, and left-hander Phil Howell tossed the final two.
Champion emerged the offensive leader with three hits in five plate appearances. Jordan Hood, who sustained a bloody nose in infield warm-ups on Wednesday, batted 2-for-4.
Lucas Potter contributed two hits. Prunest doubled in four plate appearances, while Steven Best, Paul Hayes, Robert Herring, Bruce Rose and Travis Weaver each collected a hit.
Earlier Saturday afternoon, Champion and Howell combined for an eight-hitter in Wayne County's 13-6, elimination-round conquest of Greene County. Champion scattered six hits and struck out four batters during four innings of work. Howell hurled three innings of two-hit, four-strikeout relief.
Wayne County pounded out 11 hits against four Greene County pitchers, including nine against starting right-hander Matt Jones. Hood returned to the lineup and banged out three hits in five plate appearances.
Prunest (RBI), Hayes (RBI) and Joey Parchman each added two hits. Best doubled and drove in two runs in three at-bats, while Lucas Potter singled in the fourth inning.
Tyrone Sutton led Greene County with two hits.
Missed scoring opportunities -- again -- haunted Wayne County's 13U team. They left five runners, including four in scoring position, on base in the first three innings combined.
Wilson's infielders misplayed a couple of line-drive shots, but recorded forceouts when Wayne County runners froze on the play.
Davis yielded a run-scoring double to Jonathan Jenkins in the first inning and a lead-off single to Christian Pate in the second. He eventually settled down to retire the final seven batters he faced, and benefited from an inning-ending double play in the fourth.
"We started out good and had some chances," said Wayne County coach Wiley Keel, whose team stranded a whopping 25 runners on base in three tournament games. "We hit some hard line drives with runners in scoring position and they made the plays.
"We had some hard-luck situations that cost us some bases."
Wilson County seized control in the fourth inning. Daniel Baker slapped a fastball into the left center-field gap and scored on Cory Nygard's base hit -- one of two singles the shortstop collected on the day.
Jackson Pardue came off the bench and mashed a double into the same spot as Baker and Nygard easily trotted home for a 4-2 advantage. An infield error allowed Pardue to score the final run of the inning and chase right-handed starter Jonathan Jenkins (1-1) from the mound.
"Jonathan wasn't as sharp as he was the other day," said Keel, who used four pitchers in the five-inning affair. "I think a lot of that was due to short rest. But we had to go with our best (pitcher)."
Wilson polished off its second losers' bracket victory with a six-run, fifth-inning outburst. Nygard, Pardue, Walker Shelton, Owens and Davis each picked up an RBI.
"I still feel like, despite a 10-run loss, we're still the best team in the tournament," Keel said. "A lot of times the best team doesn't win a double-elimination tournament.
"It's sad, but we didn't do the things we needed to do to win."
In Thursday's edition of the News-Argus, the Wayne County 15U pitcher was identified as Fields Howard instead of Phil Howell. The News-Argus regrets any inconvenience the error may have caused.
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