Aycock finally figures out North Lenoir
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on April 10, 2007 1:48 PM
KINSTON -- Another sluggish offensive start and uncharacteristic base-running blunders nearly haunted Charles B. Aycock on a chilly Monday evening.
But the Golden Falcons survived -- thanks to its pitching staff. Grant Sasser, Kyle Harmon and Jay Rose combined for a two-hitter as the Golden Falcons doubled up North Lenoir 4-2 on the Kinston High School diamond.
C.B. Aycock halted the Hawks' 13-game win streak and opposes D.H. Conley in today's championship game of the George Whitfield Invitational. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. and is a rematch of last year's opening-round playoff game won by Conley in Pikeville.
North Lenoir faces Lee County, the 2006 Whitfield champion, at 4 p.m.
Hawks right-hander Dewitt Pope carried a perfect game into the fourth inning and appeared poise to earn his second win against a Wayne County opponent this season. The senior induced two ground-ball outs, struck out three and forced four flyouts -- including three in the infield.
"I think we were trying to pull pitches on the outside half of the plate and popping up a lot," said Aycock right fielder Will Edgerton. "He was moving his ball around a lot, hitting the outside corners and was usually low.
"He came in with an occasional high fastball."
And when Edgerton saw that scarce fastball, he capitalized. The sophomore drilled a lead-off single in the fourth inning and ignited a four-run uprising.
"I kind of choked up a little bit and got closer to the plate," said Edgerton. "I was trying to put the ball on the ground in play."
Garrett Davis doubled home Edgerton and later scored on Zack Wright's perfectly-executed, sacrifice squeeze bunt. The Golden Falcons (12-3 overall) added two more runs on an infield error.
The lethargic beginning nearly mirrored Saturday's outing against Boone Watauga. The Golden Falcons put runners aboard during the first four innings of that game, but couldn't manufacture quality at-bats to push a run home.
"I can't understand why it takes three innings and nine hitters to make adjustments," said Aycock head coach Charles Davis. "Then all of a sudden, we make adjustments and we get much better at the plate right there."
C.B. Aycock, ranked No. 9 in the latest ImpactBaseball.com Class 3-A poll, threatened to break the game open in the sixth. Left-handed reliever Benji Harris, who replaced Pope, issued three singles and the defense coughed up an error behind him.
However, the Golden Falcons committed two base-running guffaws which negated their chance of icing the game. Hawks right-hander Matt Kennedy, who relieved Harris, surrendered a lead-off single to Jay Rose in the sixth. Rose got picked off at first and Kennedy escaped unharmed.
"Base-running mistakes killed us," lamented Davis.
Meanwhile, Sasser sailed through the first five innings. The senior left-hander surrendered one hit and faced just two batters over the minimum. He allowed just three balls to leave the infield, including Josh Bass' ground-rule double in the third.
Sasser (4-0) recorded nine consecutive outs after Bass' extra-base knock.
"Three-fourths of our batters were scared to death to go up there tonight and they showed it," said Hawks coach Jim Montague. "I don't know why they took the selection committee of which bat to use. They walked up there already defeated.
"It doesn't matter what anybody throws. If it goes across the 17 1/2-inch plate, you have to try. Sasser threw a heckuva ball game."
Sasser, who threw his longest outing of the season and climbed into the 100-plus pitch-count range, labored through the sixth inning. Two walks and Bryce Grady's two-out RBI single closed the gap to 4-2.
North Lenoir (13-2) drew three walks off Sasser in the seventh inning. Wright picked off a runner at first and Kyle Harmon, who relieved Sasser, fanned Johnson with runners at first and second. Jay Rose stepped in for Harmon and coerced lead-off batter Brandon Sutton into a game-ending groundout
It was Rose's first save of the season.
"The first five innings were great," said Sasser. "My arm felt great all night long and the last inning I could tell that I got a little bit tired. It's been about two or three years since I've thrown 100 or more pitches.
"All of my pitches were working good. It was a lot easier to pitch with three pitches against a great-hitting ball team like they've got over there."
North Lenoir 000 002 0 -- 2 2 3
C.B. Aycock 000 400 x -- 4 8 0
Leading hitters -- North Lenoir -- Bryce Grady 1-3, 2 RBI; Josh Bass 1-2, 2B. C.B. Aycock -- Will Edgerton 1-3; Bradley Taylor 1-3; Garrett Davis 2-3, 2B, RBI; Zack Wright RBI; Jay Rose 2-3; Joseph Toler 1-3; Brandon Price 1-2.
LOB -- C.B. Aycock x, North Lenoir x.
IP H R ER BB SO
Sasser (W, 4-0) 6 1/3 2 2 2 6 7
Harmon 1/3 0 0 0 0 1
Rose (S, 1) 1/3 0 0 0 0 0
Pope (L, 3-1) 4 4 4 2 0 3
No. 23 1 3 0 0 0 0
Kennedy 1 1 0 0 0 2
HBP -- by Pope (Narron).
T -- 1:51.
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