Aycock clinches league title outright
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on April 15, 2011 1:47 PM
PIKEVILLE -- Charles B. Aycock handled the adversity and earned a gratifying result on the baseball diamond Thursday evening.
Doing it against a county nemesis made it even sweeter.
The Golden Falcons dethroned three-time defending Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference regular-season champion Eastern Wayne, 7-6, in an eight-inning thriller that ended on Cameron Taylor's RBI sacrifice fly.
Aycock (15-3 overall, 10-1 ECC) secured its first conference title outright since 2007 and clinched the automatic bid to the N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs.
"We're not flashy, we have just found a way to win (all season)," said Golden Falcons head coach Charles Davis. "All this team has worried about (this season) is coming out on the field and just playing."
The Warriors seemed poised to spoil their rivals' title bid.
Greg Simms' grand slam home run spearheaded a 5-0, first-inning uprising that silenced a late-arriving Aycock crowd and energized a sparse group of Eastern Wayne fans. Wes Capps polished off the surge with a solo home run off left-hander Aaron Champion that landed high in the trees in center field.
The Golden Falcons answered. Bryant Stafford and Collin DuBose clubbed back-to-back home runs to close the gap to 5-3.
"They had all the momentum and then, all of a sudden, the momentum switches back to us," said Davis.
Aycock manufactured three third-inning runs on two hit batsmen and an RBI double from Jeff Davis, who collected the extra-base knock against Eastern Wayne reliever Zach Mozingo. The Warriors conceded the go-ahead run on Mick Walker's groundout to short.
Champion surrendered the game-tying run on an infield error in the fourth, and the Warriors (11-6, 6-4) wouldn't score again. Stafford provided four innings of one-hit, six-strikeout relief to claim the mound win.
Eastern Wayne stranded the potential game-winning run on third base in the sixth inning, but Stafford escaped with back-to-back strikeouts.
"We left a couple of opportunities," said Warriors head coach Jabo Fulghum, whose team committed four errors. "We didn't play good defense. If you're going to win championships and we've won the last three years, you've got to play good defense. My hat's off to them for winning it.
"But I was tickled to be back in the competitive mode because we went about two weeks where we were complacent, not playing good baseball. We had some desire to play."
Aycock left the potential game-winning run aboard in the sixth and seventh innings, and batted just 1-for-8 with four strikeouts with runners in scoring position on the night. Mozingo induced inning-ending groundouts in the sixth and seventh to force the extra inning.
Stafford permitted a meaningless, two-out single in the eighth and ended the inning with his sixth strikeout of the night.
Tyler Farmer started the Golden Falcons' eighth with a base hit and Fulghum questioned, from the urging of his players, to see if Farmer's bat was illegal. The umpire ruled in Farmer's favor and the senior advanced to second on a balk call against Mozingo.
"The boys in the dugout questioned the bat, so we're going to check it because they're so many bats that you can't keep up with them," said Fulghum. "The explanation on the balk was not good, and that's all I'm going to say."
The Warriors misplayed Adam Pate's bunt and Taylor followed with a fly ball to right field to seal the outcome. Aycock swept the regular-season series and claimed its 13th victory against Eastern Wayne since 2004.
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