Cardiac kids: Wooten's sixth-inning home run caps comeback
By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on May 27, 2009 1:46 PM
John Wooten continues to show his leadership this spring.
And his teammates are riding his broad shoulders.
Wooten belted two three-run home runs and threw five innings of relief as state-ranked Eastern Wayne claimed a 6-4, comeback victory over West Brunswick on Tuesday evening. The Warriors (23-4 overall) earned a berth in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 3-A eastern regional finals against either Oxford Webb or Northern Nash.
The best-of-three series begins Thursday at New Hope.
An East Carolina signee, Wooten surrendered a three-run, fourth-inning homer to the Trojans' Alex Memory. Two innings later, Wooten delivered his game-winning shot. The senior infielder finished the contest 2-for-3 with six RBI.
"I just have to tip my cap to (Memory)," said Wooten. "I threw a fastball and he yanked it down the line and out of the yard. Going into my third at-bat, I wasn't really thinking about hitting the ball out of the yard.
"I was just looking for a good pitch to hit and trying to put a good swing on it. It just happened to go out of the yard."
The No. 8-ranked Trojans (20-6) put the game-tying run aboard with two outs in their half of the seventh. Wooten struck out Memory to end the game and send the Warriors to the eastern finals for the first time since 1986.
Wooten allowed three runs (two earned) on six hits, walked one better and struck out five. It was his third straight win on the mound.
"It felt really good getting that strikeout," said Wooten. "If we hadn't gotten a strikeout, I would have been just as happy as long as we got that out."
Wooten ripped a first-inning, three-run homer.
"I've always had a saying about myself that says 'hard work will beat talent when talent doesn't work hard,'" said Wooten. "Every teammate I've got has worked their tail off. Success is just a product of good living and nobody is out here half-tailing it.
"They're all working hard and that all comes back in a big ballgame like this."
Eastern Wayne starter Zack Mozingo left Wooten a bases-loaded, no-out mess in the third inning. Wally Kamfolt supplied a run-scoring single and Memory's multiple-run shot put the Trojans in front until Wooten's late-game heroics.
Mozingo permitted one earned run on two hits, walked two and fanned two West Brunswick batters.
"This was a team effort," said Eastern Wayne head coach Jabo Fulghum. "We had some quality at-bats up and down the lineup. We expected to be here this time of year. We needed some breaks, but we've proven we had the team to get here."
Webb and Northern Nash, the 2007 east 3-A runner-up, are scheduled to play today.
"To get to this point is very satisfying," said Wooten. "I don't feel like we have one weak link in our team this year. As far as defense goes we have a very good defensive team.
"If we play defense like we're capable of playing, then we have a very good chance as far as a playoff run goes."
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