Eastern Wayne and West Brunswick ready to clash
By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on May 26, 2009 1:47 PM
Two state-ranked teams who have each won 20-plus contests battle for a spot in the eastern regional championship series tonight on the New Hope diamond.
No. 5-ranked Eastern Wayne entertains West Brunswick in a fourth-round, N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 3-A baseball playoff affair. First pitch is 7 p.m.
Warriors head coach Jabo Fulghum expects his team to accept the challenge of facing the No. 8-ranked Trojans.
"At this point every team is a quality team," said Fulghum. "West Brunswick is a capable club and they are talented at some key positions. They have a right-hander that we expect will throw against us that is solid and they have a set of twin brothers up the middle that are really strong.
"They are good behind the plate and they have a center fielder who will be at MIT next year."
Eastern Wayne (22-4 overall) will counter with one of the state's most potent offensive attacks. East Carolina signees Walker Gourley and John Wooten have provided a pair of memorable moments during Eastern Wayne's first three playoff victories.
Gourley notched the latest highlight, a walk-off home run in an eight-inning victory over South Central just four days ago.
"That was Walker's second game-winning hit of the season," said Fulghum. "He beat C.B. Aycock with a late hit and he came up huge against South Central."
The emotion of the Warriors' come-from-behind 4-3 victory over the Falcons has provided a point of conversation around Wayne County, but Fulghum insists that his team is ready to look ahead.
"That game was a lot of fun, but it's over and behind us now," said Fulghum "We have to come out ready to play (tonight) and we have to play good defense if we want to win."
The Warriors, who are making their first appearance in the east semifinals since 1986, will send Zach Mozingo to the mound against the Trojans. Wooten will be waiting in the wings for a relief opportunity.
"We want to get three or four good innings from our starter and then when John comes in we want to be able to close it out," said Fulghum. "(Wooten) really relishes that role and he has done a great job up to this point."
Pitching and defense will be the key to the Warriors' success thanks to an offense that is averaging eight runs per game during the postseason. Eastern Wayne pounded out 15 runs in an opening-round win over Northeast Guilford.
"We feel like we are always in the ballgame," said Fulghum. "Our bats have been pretty good all year and Friday's game showed some of the younger guys that it's never over. Playing at home, the offense should take care of itself as long as we have solid pitching and good defense."
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