Class 3-A baseball: Gourley's walk-off HR propels Eastern Wayne into eastern semifinals
By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on May 23, 2009 11:05 PM
One swing erased a year of bad memories.
Walker Gourley's walk-off, eighth-inning home run capped Eastern Wayne's come-from-behind, 4-3 victory over South Central on Friday evening. The homer propelled the Warriors into the eastern semifinals for the first time in 23 years.
The win also avenged a 10-inning, third-round loss to the Falcons a year ago.
Gourley, prior to his final at-bat, had been hitless and drew an intentional walk. South Central's Andrew Wadford worked to a 2-1 count before Gourley drilled the next offering deep into the trees beyond the left-field fence.
The Warriors spilled onto the field to celebrate.
"I hadn't been very successful at the plate early in the game and I was just missing some pitches," said Gourley. "I got a change-up in and he had thrown me a pitch similar to that on the first pitch, and laid off. I got my hands to it and got it done.
"Last year we had that same feeling, but this year we pushed over that hump."
Eastern Wayne (22-4 overall) remained unbeaten at home this season and entertains West Brunswick on Tuesday. The winner advances to the best-of-three eastern regional championship against either Oxford Webb or Northern Nash.
South Central (14-11) owned a two-run advantage through 41/2 innings before John Wooten slapped a solo home run to center field. Jose Ponce crossed home on a sixth-inning error to force a 3-3 tie.
"Everybody in that dugout is pulling for everybody when they're up at the plate," said Gourley. "No matter how far down we are or how far up we are, we're the same. We're going to stick together. Coach (Jabo) Fulghum always tells it's never over until the last out is made."
Wooten tossed four scoreless innings in relief of starter Josh Frederick to earn the pitching win. He struck out six, scattered three hits and walked two. The senior leadership displayed by Wooten and Gourley continues to be a key component to the Warriors' success.
Wooten, Frederick and Colton Fulghum each collected two hits for Eastern Wayne.
"When you get to be a senior you would like for some special things to happen," said Fulghum. "It couldn't happen to better a bunch. Good things happen to good people and people who work hard."
Corey Boland's two-RBI, second-inning home run put South Central on top 2-0. Eastern Wayne catcher Cambric Moye answered with a third-inning RBI single and the Falcons regained their two-run lead on Ben Longton's RBI double in the fourth.
"We're thankful that we're alive," coach Fulghum said. "When you get to this point, you're just thankful that you get to the next round."
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