C.B. Aycock camps
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on May 26, 2010 1:46 PM
Ghosts of baseball teams past, including last year's senior class, lingered around the Eastern Wayne dugout all season.
The current players fed off their energy and played with an invigorating hunger the past month that silenced their early-season critics. But the reigning eastern champions couldn't hold onto their crown Tuesday evening.
Hunt made sure of it.
The visiting Warriors erupted for six fourth-inning runs and prevailed 7-3 in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 3-A eastern semifinal-round contest on the New Hope diamond.
Once the teams shook hands, Eastern Wayne head coach Jabo Fulghum and Hunt's Jon Smith chatted at home plate while their respective teams headed to quiet spots in the outfield. Fulghum congratulated Smith, a former player, and wished him well.
Smith's squad reminded Fulghum of his team last year that lost to Lake Norman in the state championship series.
"I told Jon early in the year that you've got what it takes to get there," said Fulghum. "We saw last year what it took to get there. They swing the bats and he's found some pitching, other than (Zack) Lee. They're a tough ballclub and they have to find a way to keep working.
"Hunt's got class and a great team."
Smith had mixed emotions over the Warriors' third triumph against Eastern Wayne this season.
"I got my start here and this is what I pictured Hunt being like ... a fantastic program that does all the right things like Eastern Wayne," said Smith. "I tried to instill that in the guys when I got hired because most of them were 10th-graders. They bought in and I'm proud of them for doing that."
Hunt seized its ninth consecutive victory and denied Eastern Wayne (17-11) the opportunity to play for its second straight regional championship, and fourth overall in program history.
The teams traded first-inning runs.
Kyle Pittman's RBI groundout put Hunt on the board. The host Warriors answered on Jose Ponce's two-out, RBI single into shallow left field. The run snapped Hunt's string of holding an opponent scoreless for 20 consecutive innings in the postseason.
Neither team scratched again until the fourth.
Facing a 1-2 count, Pittman checked his swing on a strike and the field umpire said he didn't break the plane. The next pitch sailed into the strike zone, but the umpire called a ball to even the count at 2-2.
Pittman took Zach Mozingo's next offering out the park.
"It wasn't looking very good, but he's been our rock all year," said Smith.
It was Pittman's ninth homer of the year and Hunt's 30th as a team. The solo blast ignited the six-run uprising, which chased Mozingo (4-7) from the mound. Mozingo surrendered six earned runs on eight hits during three innings of work.
Josh Frederick provided four innings of one-run, four-strikeout relief, but the damage had been done.
"We didn't pitch well at the beginning," said Fulghum. "Mo didn't have his best stuff and they hit the baseball. They made us pay for some mistakes. We didn't get the ball in and they hit it pretty good.
"We couldn't put out the bleeding in the fourth."
Robert Faucette's fourth-inning fielder's choice plated Mozingo to make it 7-2. Ponce concluded the scoring with a fifth-inning, solo home -- his fourth of the season and Eastern Wayne's 16th as a team.