C.B. Aycock escapes So. Wayne -- again
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on April 29, 2007 2:01 AM
PIKEVILLE -- Charles B. Aycock senior Julia Lancaster wanted the walk-off home run, but she settled for a game-ending wild pitch instead Friday evening.
Lancaster teased the overflow crowd with a long fly ball that curled its way over the left-field fence in foul territory. Six pitches later, she drew a wild pitch -- on ball four -- which scored Jasmine Dobbin and gave the Golden Falcons a thrilling 2-1 victory over Southern Wayne.
"When I went to the plate, I was ready to hit," said Lancaster. "When I hit that ball, it felt so good and man, I look up and it was a foul ball. I kept thinking I was going to get a hit, but she walked me."
Lauren Darden's second wild pitch of the inning allowed C.B. Aycock (17-5 overall) to finish unbeaten in 10 Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference outings this season. It was the Golden Falcons' second perfect campaign in ECC play since 2003.
C.B. Aycock locked up the league's No. 1 seed for the conference tournament, and the N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs. The Falcons begin defense of their ECC tournament title at home Thursday against either Wilson Hunt or county foe Eastern Wayne.
Southern Wayne, denied its first-ever share of a conference title in program history, remained winless in 12 ECC meetings against the Golden Falcons. The Saints (20-3, 8-2 ECC) welcome either Kinston or Wilson Beddingfield in the conference tournament semifinals on Thursday.
An emotional senior night celebration seemed to take its toll on C.B. Aycock through the first four innings. Darden threw a masterful game and constantly feasted on the outside corner of the plate. The right-hander induced two infield pop-ups and two groundouts, and notched eight strikeouts.
"She threw a lot of rise balls and we went for all of them," said Lancaster, one of Darden's seven strikeout victims. "I think we were all anxious to hit her. She knew the right pitch to throw and got us."
Darden threw back-to-back strikeouts in the fifth inning. Stevie Savage, in her first plate appearance, found her timing against Darden and lofted a one-strike pitch into right field. The Saint defense committed an error on the play and Savage scampered to second base.
Brittany Ford, one of two Aycock starters who didn't strike out against Darden, slapped a single into the right center field gap. Savage easily scored for the 1-1 tie.
"I knew to get that run back, we had to hit," said Ford, who batted 2-for-2. "I was very aggressive and just went with the pitch. Then we got pumped and got back into the game."
The Saints threatened to score in the fifth and sixth innings against Lancaster, who improved to 9-4 on the mound. But Dobbin threw a runner out at the plate from right field in the fifth. Second baseman Leigh Smith and first baseman Emily Jordan turned a key sixth-inning double play that halted another rally.
"They made some big plays," said Saints head coach Brad Matthews, whose team left three of five runners in scoring position. "We didn't do well in the short game. We could have put some more runs on the board if we had gotten bunts down.
"We just didn't do the little things and that's how you win ball games."
Lancaster surrendered a two-out walk in the seventh, but collected her eighth strikeout to end the inning.
Dobbin reached on an infield error to start the game-winning rally. Jordan moved her into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt and Lancaster stepped into the box. After Lancaster smacked the ball over the fence in foul territory, Darden uncorked her first wild pitch of the game.
Lancaster worked Darden to a full count and on ball four, the pitch squirted under Lindsey Pearsall's glove. Dobbin easily scored for the 2-1 finale.
"Right there at the end, she got tense and was gripping the ball a little too tight," said Matthews of Darden. "That made the pitch go in the dirt. She pitched a heckuva game, but we should have put some more runs on the board."
Wild pitches accounted for the Saints' initial run. Lynn Grantham earned a walk against Lancaster and moved into scoring position on consecutive wild pitches. With two outs, Grantham hustled home on another wild pitch for the 1-0 lead.
"I've never pitched an inning like that," said Lancaster. "I got a little down, but my teammates were behind me and kept telling me 'we'll get a run for you Julia.'
"Once we got that run, I was ready to go."
So. Wayne 010 000 0 -- 1 3 3
C.B. Aycock 000 010 1 -- 2 3 3
One out when game-winning run scored.
Leading hitters -- Southern Wayne -- Alyssa Bradshaw 2-3, 2B; Lindsey Pearsall 1-3. C.B. Aycock -- Brittany Ford 2-2, RBI; Stevie Savage 1-1.
DP -- C.B. Aycock 1. LOB -- So. Wayne 5, C.B. Aycock 5. SB -- Fail, Ford, Lee. SH -- Mo. Davis, Ford, Jordan.
IP H R ER BB SO
Darden (L) 7 3 2 1 0 10
J. Lancaster (W) 7 3 1 0 2 8
WP -- J. Lancaster 3, Darden 2. HBP -- by Darden (Tillman), by J. Lancaster (Mo. Davis).
T -- 1:39.
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