04/10/07 — Eastern Wayne comeback falls short

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Eastern Wayne comeback falls short

By Rob Craig
Published in Sports on April 10, 2007 1:48 PM

GREENVILLE -- The dust and dirt settled on John Wooten as did the realization of what had just transpired.

Wooten had just been thrown out with two runners on as he slid into first base to end the game and Eastern Wayne's chances of playing in the championship game of the Jimmie R. Grimsley Hot Stove Tournament.

For the past three innings the Warriors had squandered opportunity after opportunity to put runs on the scoreboard and the end result was a 5-3 loss to J.H. Rose in the second round at Guy Smith Stadium on Monday night.

"We came back, swung the bats and made a game out of it," said Eastern Wayne coach Jabo Fulghum. "We just didn't get the timely hits at the end when we needed them. We battled and I'm proud of the kids."

The two teams -- who had split their previous two games earlier this season -- were coming off of victories in the first round of the tournament this past Saturday. J.H. Rose over Pine Crest and Eastern Wayne 11-1 better than Carrick.

As the second round began on the chilly night in Greenville, both teams' starting pitcher was nearly flawless during the first three innings. J.H. Rose starter Mark Wilder yielded only one walk while Wooten was perfect.

"Wooten really pitched well and kept us off balance," said J.H. Rose coach Ronald Vincent.

The fourth inning would mark the end of the pitcher's duel.

In the bottom half of the inning, Wooten allowed a single to lead-off hitter Byron Tyson and then began to struggle with his control. With one out, Wooten hit Clark Massey and walked Andrew Cain to load the bases.

A hit by Carter Gagnon and a ground out from Michael Spruill push two runs across to give the Rampants a 2-0 lead.

Eastern Wayne came right back and put two runners on when Nolan Lancaster walked and Tyler Wicks singled -- but both runners were left stranded on second and third.

The Rampants padded their lead in the bottom of the fifth inning when Massey hit a sacrifice fly and Cain singled in another run to go ahead 4-0.

"I thought our guys did a good job hitting to get runs in," said Vincent. "Against good teams like Eastern Wayne you have to score every chance you get and fortunately, we were able to do that tonight."

The Warriors scrapped and clawed back in the sixth inning.

With one out, Walker Gourley and Wooten walked while Taylor Sutton singled to load the bases off of Wilder.

With Nolan Lancaster standing at the plate, Wilder unleashed a 2-0 wild pitch. A wild run-down ensued after Sutton was stuck in between first and second base.

Gourley drew the Rampants' attention as he danced off third and Wooten did the same as he moved away from second. As the ball made it's way from infielder to infielder, Gourley finally broke for home.

The throw to the plate drilled him in the back and bounced away allowing Wooten to trot home with a second run to cut the J.H. Rose lead in half at 4-2.

"We really blew that one run down," said Vincent. "We looked like a Major League team until that last throw."

Eastern Wayne added one more run in the frame on an RBI single by Tyler Wicks off of reliever Mark Lindsey to make it 4-3.

After the Rampants added an insurance run in the bottom of the inning, the Warriors looked to rally in the seventh.

A one-out hit by Jose Ponce and a walk to Chad Gurley put the tying runs on base, but Gourley and Wooten couldn't connect for the big hit.

"We just need a little clutch here and there," said Fulghum. "We'll get it one of these games."

Wooten had a strong complete game effort as he allowed five runs (four earned) on five hits, walked two and struck out seven.

"John pitched well," said Fulghum. "He pitched well enough to win."

The loss means Eastern Wayne (8-8) will now face Wake County in the third place game at Guy Smith at 5 p.m. today.

"We gained a little bit of confidence even though we lost," said Fulghum. "It's good to play good competition, but we need to come back tomorrow ready to play."

Eastern Wayne 000 003 0 -- 3 5 2

J.H. Rose 000 221 x -- 5 5 1

Leading Hitters -- Eastern Wayne -- Tyler Wicks 2-3, RBI; John Wooten 1-1, R. J.H. Rose -- Byron Tyson 2-3, 2 R; Michael Spruill 1-3, RBI, R; Andrew Cain 1-2, RBI.

DP -- J.H. Rose 1. LOB -- Eastern Wayne 6, J.H. Rose 4. SB -- Tyson, Spruill. CS -- Wooten, Sutton. S -- Fredrick, Garner, Dozier. SF -- Massey.


Eastern Wayne

Wooten (L) 6 5 5 4 2 7

J.H. Rose

Wilder (W) 5 1/3 3 3 3 5 7

Lindsey (S) 1 2/3 2 0 0 1 3

Balk -- Wilder. WP -- Wilder. PB -- Wicks 2. HBP -- by Wooten (Massey).