04/16/08 — Eastern Wayne hits, walks past Wilson Hunt, 8-5

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Eastern Wayne hits, walks past Wilson Hunt, 8-5

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on April 16, 2008 2:58 PM

WILSON -- During his 15-plus seasons at Eastern Wayne, varsity baseball coach Jabo Fulghum has watched his teams finish runner-up in regular-season conference play on nine occasions.

His 2008 team just might shed the bridesmaid role.

The Warriors defeated Wilson Hunt 8-5 on Tuesday evening and continue to share the Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference penthouse with county archrival Charles B. Aycock. Both teams stand 6-1 with just 10 days remaining in league play.

"The first time we played them we didn't make the plays and they had some timely hits," said Fulghum. "I told the boys what comes around, goes around. We were focused tonight and ready to play."

Eastern Wayne (13-5 overall) walked and hit its way to a three-run advantage after three innings. The visiting Warriors plated three first-inning runs on RBI hits from Tyler Wicks and Cambric Moye, and two walks from Hunt right-hander Justin Nygard.

Nygard threw a perfect second inning, but couldn't escape trouble in the third. He permitted two more walks to start the inning and Eastern Wayne helped its cause with four hits. Wicks and Moye, who has 11 RBI in last three outings, each cranked out an RBI single.

Jeff Hill supplied a two-RBI double.

"We put the ball in play and were patient with Nygard," said Fulghum. "We beat a good pitcher and a good ball club."

Meanwhile, Eastern Wayne hurler Michael Mintz labored through the first three innings. He surrendered three first-inning doubles as Hunt forged a 3-3 tie.

Mintz (3-0) gave up a third-inning run on an infield error. Hunt (12-7, 4-3 ECC) loaded the bases and Mintz fell behind 2-0 in the count against Russell Ward. Fulghum walked to the mound and called upon John Wooten with Eastern Wayne leading 7-4.

A junior right-hander, Wooten retired Ward and Nygard on strikeouts to end the inning. He threw a perfect fourth and sixth innings, and notched a foul-tip strikeout to end the fifth with runners in scoring position.

"Wooten, the last time, couldn't find his spots, but this time he was on," said Fulghum. "He threw the ball well. He likes that closing role. I wanted to start him, but he's throwing so good I hate to get him out of sorts."

Jose Ponce's lead-off triple and an infield error on a routine pop-up led to Eastern Wayne's seventh-inning run.

Hunt loaded the bases on a hit batsman, two errors and a fielder's choice. Wooten allowed one run on an RBI groundout, but concluded the ECC outing with an inning-ending groundout for his second save of the season.

"You've got to work hard and mistakes happen," said Wooten of the seventh inning. "I've got confidence in everybody in my infield, and anytime there's a ground ball hit in the infield, I'm thinking 'we've got it.'

"If we make a mistake, I doubt it's going to happen again."

Eastern Wayne collected its fifth straight ECC victory and needs three wins to claim a share of the regular-season title.

"If we want the conference title to ourselves, we have to snatch all three pieces of the pie left," said Fulghum. "That's what our first goal is (for the season). It's one day at a time in the conference."