03/06/09 — Saints fall in nine to D.H. Conley

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Saints fall in nine to D.H. Conley

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on March 6, 2009 1:46 PM

DUDLEY -- Half a step.

That's all that separated Southern Wayne and D.H. Conley, which staged a nine-inning, non-conference baseball thriller Thursday evening on the Doyle Whitfield Athletic Complex diamond.

Beneficiary of a bang-bang infield play, the Vikings pulled out a 5-4 win.

Trevor Spencer started Conley's ninth inning by chopping a high grounder over third base. Saints infielder Zach Grantham collected the ball and fired it to first base.

The umpire emphatically called Spencer safe, which drew displeasure from the Saints' fans. Chris Ward followed with a sacrifice fly and Spencer trotted home as the game-winning run on Tyler Nichols' opposite-field single.

Vikings closer Ryan Gupton retired the Saints in the ninth for the win.

"I was really pleased with how hard my guys played tonight," said Southern Wayne head coach Trey McKee. "I thought we were ready to play from the opening pitch and our guys never put their heads down."

Southern Wayne (1-1 overall) grabbed a 2-0, first-inning lead on Scott Holloman's RBI sacrifice fly and Jordan Williams' fielder's choice groundout. Williams slugged a third-inning, solo home run and Holloman provided a fourth-inning, RBI single to conclude the Saints' scoring.

"We have a good group of senior leaders, guys like Williams, Holloman, Edwards and Michael Douglas," said McKee. "This early in the season everything is still a work in progress, but once we get some of our young guys going I think this team has a lot of potential."

Down 4-3, Conley tied the game in the sixth inning.

Landon Elks drew a one-out walk and moved to second on a fielder's choice groundout. Pinch-hitter Mark Bankoski delivered the game-tying single two batters later.

Gupton earned the win on the pitcher's mound. The hard-throwing right-hander tossed two scoreless innings and struck out four of the five batters he faced.

Edwards took the loss for the Saints after allowing one run on two hits during a three-inning stint. Starter Michael Douglas had to settle for a no-decision despite only allowing three runs on six hits over five innings.

"For the first outing of the year I thought Michael did a good job," said McKee. "Tyler had good stuff and he's our guy in closing situations. He is going to get some innings in that role and we will see how he does."

Southern Wayne plays host to Greene Central today.