C.B. Aycock advances
By Rob Craig
Published in Sports on May 13, 2007 2:03 AM
PIKEVILLE -- Every opponent in the playoffs scares Charles B. Aycock coach Charles Davis. What bothered Davis even more was facing a team that had literally just gotten a second life.
Northeast Guilford was out of the postseason picture just three days ago until a records error allowed the Rams to slip in as a wild-card entry over Gray's Creek High School.
"They had nothing to lose," said Davis. "Teams like that scare you."
With nothing to lose and everything to gain, the visiting Rams could have been the team Davis was dreading, but pitcher Grant Sasser erased his coach's worries. Sasser tossed five shutout innings and the Golden Falcons prevailed 6-0 in their N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 3-A playoff opener.
"The playoffs is all about surviving and advancing and I thought we did that tonight," said Davis. "It's about pitching, defense and getting key hits in situations and we got all of that tonight."
Regardless of Friday night's result, the Rams (8-16 overall) were just happy to get the playoff experience.
"We just figured we were out of it and we're surprised to be here," said Northeast Guilford coach David Lawing. "We struggled this year, but for whatever reason we got a wild card and came here. It's good experience for us."
Sasser dominated the visiting Rams for the first five innings before turning the ball over to Garrett Davis, who threw two perfect innings to close out the game.
"I'm beginning to like Grant throwing, and then Garrett coming in and throwing a couple of innings," said Davis. "Sasser going five and Davis going two puts a smile on your face."
If Davis was smiling, the Northeast Guilford hitters were frowning as they saw a steady diet of breaking curveballs and overpowering fastballs from the two hurlers.
Sasser's breaking pitch was particularly nasty and buckled the knees of opposing batters. An N.C. State signee, Sasser (8-0) rang up eight strikeouts on the night.
"I was relieved to see that," said Sasser of the movement of his breaking pitch. "Every pitch was working great tonight. I felt good and the arm felt strong."
Northeast Guilford pitcher Zach Moore didn't have the same success against the Aycock hitters.
In the second inning, the Golden Falcons got a clutch hit to score two runs. With two outs and two runners on, Will Edgerton lined a pitch into the left-center field gap to score both runners and go ahead 2-0.
"Will Edgerton had a big two-out hit there," said Davis. "Had we not scored those runs, that would have given them a lot of confidence."
Brandon Price followed up Edgerton's hit with an RBI single to give Aycock the 3-0 lead.
To end any doubt in the outcome, the Golden Falcons scored three more times in the bottom of the fifth on a towering two-run homer from Zack Wright and an RBI double by Joseph Toler. Wright would finished 1-for-1 with a walk, homer and two RBIs. Toler was 2-for-3 with an RBI, a run scored and a stolen base.
"That gave us breathing room," said Davis. "I challenged Zack in batting practice, telling him it was time to pick things up. It was a big home run in that situation."
Sasser departed with a two-hitter under his belt and Davis did the rest. The North Carolina signee threw two perfect innings, inducing four groundouts to go along with two strikeouts.
"This time of year, you hope your pitchers are sharp and both were tonight," said coach Davis.
C.B. Aycock (24-3) picked up its 19th straight win and entertains West Craven at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
"If it's West Craven we're going to have our hands full," said Davis. "They're a very solid ball club. The thing about it now everybody is solid and they're all out to get you."
Northeast Guilford 000 000 0 -- 0 2 1
C.B. Aycock 030 030 x -- 6 8 0
Leading hitters -- Northeast Guilford -- Matt Hawkins 2-3. C.B. Aycock -- Joseph Toler 2-3, 2B, RBI; Garrett Davis 2-3, 2B; Zack Wright 1-1, HR, 2 RBI; Will Edgerton 1-3, 2B, 2 RBI; Bradley Taylor 1-3, RBI.
LOB -- Northeast Guilford 3, C.B. Aycock 5. SB -- Davis, Toler, Narron. CS -- Lankford.
IP H R ER BB SO
Moore (L) 6 8 6 6 2 6
Sasser (W, 8-0) 5 2 0 0 2 8
Davis 2 0 0 0 0 2
WP -- Moore. HBP -- by Moore (Wright).
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