By Rob Craig
Published in Sports on May 3, 2007 1:47 PM
DUDLEY -- Over the past month, Southern Wayne has always seemed to be a play or two away from recording a big win.
With a playoff berth on the line, in the first round of the Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference tournament against Wilson Beddingfield, the Saints finally made the plays that proved to be the difference.
Two big plays by third baseman Chris Massey and Doogie Niemond's strike to home plate to throw out a runner proved to be the difference in Southern Wayne's 3-2 win over Beddingfield on Wednesday night.
"We made some big plays defensively that kept us in the ball game," said Southern Wayne coach Trae McKee.
The Saints improve to 12-12 on the season and earned a state-playoff bid after Kinston forfeited to Wilson Hunt. The victory sets up a contest today at county rival and defending ECC tournament champion Charles B. Aycock.
The win didn't come easy against a Bruins team that Southern Wayne swept during the regular season.
Southern Wayne led 1-0 in the fourth inning when right-handed hurler Byron Powell got into a jam. Powell had held the Bruins hitless for 3 1/3 innings, but surrendered two singles and walked a batter to load the bases with only one out.
The opposing pitcher, Marqui Ransome, stood in against Powell and lined a pitch hard to third base. Massey plucked the ball from the air and tagged third base for the inning ending double play.
"(Ransome) is one of their better hitters and we left a curve ball up and he drilled it," said McKee. "We were in the right position to make a play though."
Southern Wayne went up 2-0 in the bottom of the fourth on a sacrifice fly by Massey that scored Garrett Barfield -- who had led the inning off with a double.
Beddingfield came right back with consecutive hits to put runners on first and second. A passed ball moved the runners into scoring position and a deep foul ball along the right field line looked like a sure sacrifice fly.
The right fielder Niemond charged, caught the ball and unleashed a strike to Barfield at the plate, who in turn, tagged out a leaping Lance Price at home.
"That was a big-time play -- a big time play," said McKee. "Doogie makes a good play coming in and makes a perfect throw to the plate to keep that run from scoring."
The score was 3-0 in the top of the sixth inning when Powell gave up back-to-back doubles to plate a run for Beddingfield. Powell (3-3) exited the game at that point with a six-hit, three-strikeout performance in the books.
"Byron did a good job," said McKee. "He kept us in the ball game and did a much better job throwing strikes."
Michael Douglass then entered and got Aaron Dew to hit a sharp grounder to Massey who dove towards the bag to get Chris Jones out at third base.
Beddingfield would get an extra out as an error would put a runner on and a passed ball allowed Dew to score and make it a one-run ball game.
Ransome would keep the Saints from adding a much needed insurance run in the bottom of the inning when he would get Sterling Grice and Jordan Williams to ground out -- stranding pinch-runner Jordan Hood on third base.
Douglass retired Beddingfield on four pitches in the seventh to preserve the win and pick up his second save with the help of Williams, who made a tough running catch to end the game.
"That was nice," said McKee. "It was good to seem him make a big play and do something positive to get his confidence going."
Beddingfield 000 002 0 -- 2 6 3
Southern Wayne 010 110 x -- 3 3 1
Leading hitters -- Beddingfield -- Chris Jones 1-3, 2B, RBI; Zach Rodgers 1-3, 2B, R. Southern Wayne -- Garrett Barfield 1-2, 2B, R; Dave Overman 1-3, 2B, R; Sterling Grice 1-3, 2B.
DP -- Southern Wayne 2. LOB -- Beddingfield 4, Southern Wayne 5. SB -- Wiggins. CS -- Baker. S -- Massey. SF -- Massey.
IP H R ER BB SO
Ransome (L) 6 3 3 2 3 4
Powell (W, 3-3) 5 1/3 6 2 1 2 3
Douglass (S, 2) 1 2/3 0 0 0 1 0
PB -- Barfield 2.
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