05/07/09 — W. Christian takes CCC tournament

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W. Christian takes CCC tournament

By Staff Reports
Published in Sports on May 7, 2009 1:46 PM

WILSON -- MVP Kyle Harrell scored the game-winning run on a seventh-inning error as Wayne Christian edged Trinity-Durham 17-16, and claimed its fourth consecutive Carolina Christian 1-A Conference baseball tournament crown Wednesday afternoon.

"What a game ... unbelievable," said first-year WCS head coach Greg Johnson. "The guys really never gave up. They played with a lot of heart, but it was not easy on a coach."


Trinity-Durham plated 12 first-inning runs and nearly induced the 10-mercy rule in the middle innings. But the Eagles answered each challenge and continued their four-year domination over their CCC foes.

The second-seeded Knights chased starter Steven Gallagher from the mound and were equally rude to reliever Michael Johnson. But eighth-grader Greg Johnson, the coach's son, seemed to find the remedy needed to cool Trinity's hot hitting.

Using an effective slider that fooled the Knights' hitters, Johnson permitted just four runs in a four-inning stint. Wayne Christian took the cue from one of its youngest players and slowly climbed back into the contest.

But would the deficit be too much?

"They came prepared for us and we did not take them lightly," said coach Johnson. "They had a game plan and just capitalized on it. I knew I couldn't get upset with the guys because there was so much game to play after the first inning. I just told them we had to peck away at their lead and good things will happen."

Trinity kept its double-digit advantage and as Wayne Christian stared the mercy rule in the face, Johnson offered more encouragement outside the dugout.

"I told them either score a run and stay another inning, or score a lot and get back in it," said the coach, who remained confident in his team's ability.

The Eagles climbed within 15-12 on the strength of Dom Arthur's three-run home run, his second round-tripper of the tournament. The Knights led 16-13 after 6 1/2 innings before Johnson witnessed a stirring seventh-inning rally.

Jordan Crouthamel was hit by a pitch and scored on Travis Thomas' double. Michael Johnson singled and after an infield pop-up. Thomas and Johnson crossed on Kyle Harrell's triple off the center-field fence for the 16-16 tie.

Trinity attempted to throw Johnson out at the plate, but committed an error on the play. Harrell scored and capped the Eagles' miraculous comeback.

"I have never been around something like that," said coach Johnson, who was named the league's coach of the year.

Arthur and Johnson, who earned all-CCC tournament honors, pounded out three hits apiece. Chandler Harrell batted 3-for-4. Thomas and Harrell, a pair of all-conference selections, each provided two hits.

Dante Arthur received all-conference and all-tournament accolades, while Dom Arthur grabbed a spot on the all-tournament squad.

Wayne Christian (15-2 overall) drew the No. 5 seed for the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association playoffs, which begin Friday. The Eagles entertain 12th-seeded Trinity Christian-Fayetteville at 4 p.m.