Reloaded Wayne Christian knocks off Goldsboro
By Steve Roush
Published in Sports on March 30, 2007 2:12 PM
The Wayne Christian Eagles don't rebuild -- they reload.
The Eagles lost six seniors off a team that won three consecutive Class 1-A Carolina Christian Conference titles, but haven't skipped a beat this season as Wayne Christian has surged out to a 6-1 start and has climbed up to No. 4 in the state in the latest 1-A N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association poll.
On Thursday afternoon, the Eagles pounded out 17 hits and junior ace Adam Brannan (4-0) pitched four strong innings as Wayne Christian beat visiting Goldsboro 24-1 in five innings.
Wayne Christian coach Tim Brannan said he is mildly surprised with how quickly his young Eagles have matured this season.
"We lost six seniors off last year's team, so we felt like we'd probably have a bit of a rebuilding year," he said. "I knew I had the nucleus of a good team coming back, and I thought I had some good JV players coming up who could really contribute.
"But to be honest with you, they've really surprised me."
Wayne Christian scored five times in the first and third innings, and plated seven runs in the second and fourth innings to put the game away. To go along with their 17 hits, the Eagles also drew 11 walks against Goldsboro pitching and benefited from five Cougar errors.
That was more than enough support for Adam Brannan, who struck out seven and walked none while giving up three hits and a run in four innings of work. Jeremy Jefferson pitched a perfect fifth for Wayne Christian to end the contest. He struck out one batter.
"We'd love to go to state again this year," said Adam Brannan, who also went 2-for-4 Thursday with a three-run inside-the-park home run in the bottom of the fourth. "We'd like to get up there for a fourth year in a row. I knew we had enough talent this year to be a good team, it's just whether or not we'd step up. And so far, we've stepped up."
For Goldsboro (0-10), which played Thursday's contest with just eight players, Eric McLean went 2-for-2 and scored the Cougars' only run in the fourth inning when Donald Lewis drove him home with a double.
"This is probably about the best we've hit," third-year Goldsboro coach Michael Darden said. "It was tough today because we had a couple of players out sick. Hopefully, we can go down to Tarboro tomorrow and play a better game than we did today."
On the mound, Donté Love struck out three and walked 10 in three-plus innings of work. He gave up 11 hits and 17 runs (15 earned) before leaving one pitch into the bottom of the fourth with a sore arm. McLean threw one inning in relief, gave up six hits, seven runs (four earned), walked one and struck out two.
Also for Wayne Christian, Jefferson went 4-for-5 with a double, triple and two RBIs, Doug Johnson was 3-for-4 with a triple and four ribbies, T.A. Brannan was 2-for-4 with a double, Travis Thomas was 2-for-4 with three RBIs, Michael Johnson was 2-for-2 with three walks and four RBIs, Danté Arthur went 1-for-2 with three walks and an RBI, and Josiah Wright was 1-for-3 with two walks.
Wayne Christian's lone loss this season came against Hobgood Academy, a team the Eagles beat 7-3 earlier in the season on a grad slam by Kyle Harrell.
Coach Brannan said he likes what he sees with this team.
"We've won three conference championships in a row, so we're going for No. 4 this year," Brannan said. "That's what we're trying to achieve."
Goldsboro 000 10 -- 1 3 5
Wayne Christian 575 7x -- 24 17 0
Leading hitters -- Goldsboro -- Eric McLean 2-2, run; Donald Lewis 1-2, 2B, RBI; Wayne Christian -- Adam Brannan 2-4, 2B, HR, walk, 3 RBIs, 4 runs; Doug Johnson 3-4, 3B, walk, 4 RBIs, 4 runs; Jeremy Jefferson 4-5, 2B, 3B, 2 RBIs, 3 runs; Josiah Wright 1-3, 2 walks, 3 runs; T.A. Brannan 2-4, 2B, HBP, 2 runs; Danté Arthur 1-2, 3 walks, RBI, 2 runs; Michael Johnson 2-2, 3 walks, 4 RBIs, 3 runs; Travis Thomas 2-4, walk, 3 RBIs, 3 runs.
IP H R ER BB SO
Love (L) 3 11 17 15 10 3
McLean 1 6 7 4 1 2
Wayne Christian (6-1)
A. Brannan (W, 4-0) 4 3 1 1 0 7
Jefferson 1 0 0 0 0 1
HBP -- T.A. Brannan (by McLean).
T -- 1:42
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