06/07/09 — NCHSAA 3-A baseball championships: Warriors take game 2, but can't complete comeback in game 3

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NCHSAA 3-A baseball championships: Warriors take game 2, but can't complete comeback in game 3

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on June 7, 2009 2:01 AM

ZEBULON -- Eastern Wayne's season of comebacks and close games came up one run short.

The Warriors forced a decisive third game in the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 3-A state championship series on Saturday evening at Five County Stadium, but couldn't keep the momentum.

Eastern Wayne took game two in the best-of-three set, but Lake Norman prevailed 8-7 in the nightcap and claimed its first state title in school history.

"It hurts. I am so proud of these guys for all that they accomplished, but right now it's tough," said Eastern Wayne head coach Jabo Fulghum. "We came out today and we battled, but you have to hand it to Lake Norman for getting the big hit late in the game."

Tied at 6-6 in the seventh inning, the Warriors sent Zack Mozingo to relieve John Wooten. Jordan Ferrell and Joe Faist drew back-to-back walks. After a failed bunt attempt by Donnie Burt, the Wildcats benefited from the game's deciding play.

Nick Keith bounced a grounder to the left side of the infield that was mishandled and allowed the go-ahead run to race home. One batter later, the Wildcats added a second run on a wild pitch.

"Over the three games we out-hit them," said Fulghum. "But we also out-errored them, and in the end that was the difference."

Eastern Wayne made one last comeback attempt in its final at-bat of the season. Wooten lined a one-out, off-speed pitch out of the park to pull the Warriors within 8-7.

Robert Faucette singled and Jose Ponce walked to the plate. Wildcat left-hander Nick Lomascolo, who earned the game one win, retired the final two batters and earned Most Valuable Player honors.

"Sometimes you feel like it's meant to be," said Wooten. "I have had that feeling before, but the fact is you have to go out on the field and make it happen. Lake Norman has a great team and they played a good game."

Wooten and Mozingo stole the show in game two. The duo combined for a one-hit shutout as the Warriors overcame Friday's defensive woes to even the series.

Mozingo tossed 4 1/3 innings of one-hit ball before Wooten took over, and dominated the Wildcats with a popping fastball and solid change-up.

"I wasn't intimidated coming into today," said Mozingo. "I have been pitching pretty well recently so I just wanted to focus and keep my head in the game."

Eastern Wayne (26-6 overall) jumped out in front during the top of the second inning. Faucette led off with a double and advanced to third base when the Wildcats misplayed Ponce's sacrifice bunt. Colton Fulghum followed with an RBI single.

"We needed some guys to step up today and we got that," said coach Fulghum. "We gave it all we had and it just wasn't quite enough."

After Mozingo allowed the game's only hit, Fulghum gave the ball to Wooten with two runners on base in the fifth inning. The always-calm senior retired the next two batters and ended the threat.

The Warriors' defense shined in the sixth inning.

Lake Norman lead-off batter Kevin Gradert laced a line drive to left center field and appeared to be headed for extra bases, but Hunter Newsome laid out and made a spectacular catch to keep the Wildcats at bay. Two batters later, Manser belted an off-speed offering to nearly the same spot on the outfield. This time it was Colton Fulghum to the rescue with a sliding grab.