03/16/12 — Stevens: Eastern Carolina 3-A baseball race is 4-team chase

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Stevens: Eastern Carolina 3-A baseball race is 4-team chase

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on March 16, 2012 1:48 PM

As the majority of the sports world focuses on college basketball for the next three weeks, the Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference baseball race is just heating up.

Eastern Wayne, Southern Wayne, North Lenoir and Charles B. Aycock have separated themselves from Triton, South Johnston and Cleveland as front-runners to win the league. The Saints, Hawks and Warriors are currently in a three-way tie for first in the ECC, with the Golden Falcons just a game back.

Southern Wayne (5-2 overall, 2-0 ECC) has shown a propensity to swing the bats while average more than five runs a game. The Saints have scored five or more runs in four of their first seven contests.

Depth and experience have proven to be positives for Southern Wayne as numerous players have made contributions. Seniors Taylor Brock, Jacob Sasser, Taylor Gainey, Jamie Dove, Colton Chrisman, Keith Jones and a handful of others have produced at the plate for the Saints.

Jamar Holmes, Jackson Hayes and Tyler Gainey have each provided quality innings on the mound along with ace Jeremy Taylor. Southern Wayne visits ECC rival Eastern Wayne today. The Saints are 3-0 on the road this season.

The Warriors (4-3, 2-0) have found themselves in a number of close ballgames through the first three weeks of the season. Five of Eastern Wayne's first seven outings have been decided by three runs or fewer. The Warriors are 3-2 in those ballgames.

Eastern Wayne ace Zack Mozingo has recorded 32 strikeouts in 19 innings pitched with an 0.37 earned run average. The Warriors have compiled just a .233 batting average with 38 hits in 163 at-bats.

Sophomore left-hander Landon Letchworth pitched a complete-game shutout in North Lenoir's 6-0 victory over Aycock on Wednesday afternoon in LaGrange. The Hawks (5-2, 3-0) have scored nearly 10 runs a game through seven contests with a team batting average of .332. Addison Harper leads North Lenoir with a .600 batting average and Mikal Batts has 10 RBI in 28 at-bats.

A team ERA of 2.43 has been a key the Hawks' success. North Lenoir visits South Johnston today, and still has a pair of meetings with Eastern Wayne and Southern Wayne along with a trip to Aycock on its schedule.

"I told our kids it's very important the first time around (in conference play) to get as many wins as you can," Hawks' head coach Jim Montague said on Wednesday. "You don't want to play the second half of the year hoping somebody does your job that you didn't do."

The Golden Falcons (5-1, 2-1) earned wins over traditional powers D.H. Conley and Wilson Hunt during non-conference play. Aycock has outscored its opponents 38-18 with junior Adam Pate leading the way with a .524 average. Senior Bryant Stafford, who sports a .391 average, 12 RBI and four doubles in 23 at-bats, and Cameron Taylor (.348) have been factors as well.

Stafford (1.54 ERA) and Collin DuBose (1.75) lead the Golden Falcons with two wins on the mound apiece. Aycock visits Cleveland today.

It is only March and the madness in the ECC lasts all spring.