Playoff heartbreaker: Warriors eliminated in 10 innings
By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on May 18, 2008 2:03 AM
Josh Worthington saved his best plate appearance for last.
The catcher ripped a game-winning, 10th-inning single as South Central edged Eastern Wayne 4-3 on a wet Friday evening in New Hope. The Falcons (12-14 overall) face county archrival D.H. Conley in a fourth-round, N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 3-A playoff game Tuesday.
Eastern Wayne finished the year 21-7.
Hitless in four at-bats, Worthington stepped into the batter's box with runners on first and second. Warrior reliever John Wooten served up a pitch and Worthington delivered a hit to score Aarin Sharpe.
"I can honestly say that neither team deserved to lose this game," said South Central coach Robert "Peanut" Langston. "I am really proud of my guys, and I thank God that we got the opportunity to come out with a tonight."
The Falcons beat the Warriors for the second time this season.
"Those guys deserve a ton of credit," said Langston of Eastern Wayne, coached by brother-in-law Jabo Fulghum. "John did a great job on the mound and they made a few fantastic plays in the field."
Sharpe impressed Fulghum. He made three dazzling plays at third base before scoring the game-winning run.
"I really think the difference in this game was their third baseman," said Fulghum. "He was phenomenal in the field and he had a couple of big hits."
South Central seized an early 3-0 lead, but Langston made sure his team kept their emotions in check. Eastern Wayne erased three-run deficits in playoff wins over Western Alamance and West Craven.
"I told the guys that this team was going to battle back," said Langston. "We knew they had come from behind to win their first two playoff games, so we had to keep fighting."
Eastern Wayne, as usual, didn't quit.
Jeff Hill ripped a double and scored two batters later on a balk. Nolan Lancaster collected the second run on Wooten's RBI single. One inning later, the Warriors knotted the contest at 3-3 on Colton Fulghum's RBI fielder's choice, which drove in catcher Cambric Moye.
The extra-inning loss marked the final game for six seniors -- Hill Lancaster, Anthony Otellio, Michael Mintz, Tyler Wicks and Justin Cook. The group helped Eastern Wayne claim its first conference championship since 1989 and win its first two playoff games in more than a decade.
Fulghum couldn't contain his admiration.
"I hate to lose this game for those guys," said Fulghum. "But we can leave the field tonight with our heads held high. This season has been a great run.
"We'll come back next year with almost our whole team back. Adron Hollowell has come on and really improved this year, and we have a lot to look forward to next season."
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