03/07/07 — Long, Eason power Ashley past Southern Wayne

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Long, Eason power Ashley past Southern Wayne

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on March 7, 2007 2:45 PM

DUDLEY -- Opposing teams know about Southern Wayne's scrappy reputation on the baseball diamond. That notoriety went unobserved Tuesday evening.

Ben Long and Chris Eason slugged back-to-back home runs in the first inning and sparked Wilmington Ashley to a 9-2, non-conference victory at the Doyle Whitfield Athletic Complex.

Ashley improved to 2-2 overall, while the Saints dropped to 1-2.

"We talked about it in pre-game trying to jump on them early, especially when you've got a scrappy team you're playing against," said Ashley head coach Brian Stewart. "We came out swinging the bats early, which is good. That takes a lot of pressure off our pitchers and our defense."

Tyler Stott started the Eagles' first at-bat by reaching on an error. Long fouled off three consecutive pitches and eventually worked Saints right-hander Byron Powell to a 3-2 count before he smacked a fastball over the right field wall. Eason followed with a two-strike, solo blast in the opposite direction.

Long and Eason combined for three of the Eagles' 10 hits and six RBI overall.

"We wanted the guys to see some pitches to see what he's (Powell) got," said Stewart. "The guys did a very good job adjusting early. Those guys (Long, Eason) have been hitting the ball very well and are starting to get into a groove swinging."

Powell forced a couple of pop-ups and picked off a runner between first and second base to end the inning.

But once the Saints stepped into the batter's box, head coach Trae McKee didn't see that desire he's come to expect from his teams. Ashley right-hander Erik Tello threw just seven pitches and picked off a runner at first base to end Southern Wayne's first at-bat.

"We didn't really come back and say 'we're going to try to score some runs here. We're going to try to square up some balls,'" said McKee. "We didn't have a whole lot of fight coming back after the first inning.

"I don't think we had too many very good plate appearances. Obviously, he was effective because he kept us from scoring."

Tello, in his first start, yielded three hits in the first three innings combined. However, the Saints hit into an inning-ending double play in the second, and stranded lead-off batter Chris Massey at second base in the third.

The Saints pulled within 4-1 in the fourth on Dave Overman's RBI groundout, which scored Garrett Barfield. Massey accounted for the second run with a one-out, infield single in the fifth after Ashley had extended its advantage to 9-2. Tello coerced Powell into an inning-ending fielder's choice and Southern Wayne left the bases loaded.

"We had an opportunity (to rally) with the bases loaded if we come up with a big hit right there," said McKee.

Southern Wayne finished with five hits, including two by Massey. Barfield, Jordan Williams and Scott Holloman each provided a single. Tello (1-0) allowed one earned run, struck out four and walked three in a five-inning stint.

"We told Erik we'd try to get four innings out of him and he did well to get five innings," said Stewart. "He had several ground-ball outs, which is a big key. That helped make it easy for us."

The Saints went quietly in the sixth and seventh innings against Long, who relieved Tello after the fifth inning. Long induced four ground-ball outs, a strikeout and a shallow fly ball to center field.

"We played emotionless tonight, didn't play with a whole lot of intensity and didn't play with a whole lot of fight," said McKee. "That's what we've got to do (to win). Right now, it's got to be more about this team and a lot less about our individual effort.

"We've got to get better team unity and chemistry."

Notes: Saints RHP Tyler Edwards threw two innings of no-hit, five-strikeout relief. ... Southern Wayne had 10 base runners overall, and left four on base. ... Ashley had four extra-base hits -- two doubles and two HRs.

Wilm. Ashley 301 050 0 -- 9 10 1

So. Wayne 000 110 0 -- 2 5 3

Leading hitters -- Wilm. Ashley -- Tyler Stott 2-3, 2B; Ben Long 2-3, HR, 4 RBI; Chris Eason 1-3, HR, 2 RBI; Matt Pye 2-4; T.J. Barron 1-2, 2B, RBI. Southern Wayne -- Chris Massey 2-4, 2B; Garrett Barfield 1-2; Jordan Williams 1-3; Scott Holloman 1-2.

DP -- Wilm. Ashley 1. LOB -- Wilm. Ashley 3, Southern Wayne 4. SB -- Stott 2, Pye 1. CS -- Sawtilli, Barfield. SH -- Long, Edwards.


Wilm. Ashley

Tello (W, 1-0) 5 5 2 1 3 4

Long 2 0 0 0 0 1

Southern Wayne

Powell (L, 0-1) 41/3 7 8 7 3 3

Howell 2/3 2 1 1 1 0

Edwards 2 1 0 0 0 5

WP -- Edwards.

T -- 2:02.