Controversial 'strike' leads to game-winning hit
By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on March 18, 2012 1:52 AM
Eastern Wayne may have found a four-leaf clover.
The Warriors scored the game-winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning and beat archrival Southern Wayne 4-3 on Wednesday night. The win keeps Eastern Wayne in a tie for first place with North Lenoir in the Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference.
The victory came with a dose of controversy.
Zack Mozingo led off the bottom of the seventh with a walk. Nolan James bounced into a fielder's choice and then advanced to second on a wild pitch. Wes Capps' groundout pushed James to third base with two outs. Jeremy Lancaster strode to the plate with a chance to win the game.
Strike two ... or, maybe not.
After the second pitch of Lancaster's at-bat, the home plate umpire motioned the pitch as a strike, but declared it a ball, which evened the count at 1-and-1.
Lancaster took a second strike, which the Southern Wayne players, coaches and fans thought was the third strike. After an argument from the Saints' bench, Lancaster hit the next pitch into left field and James trotted home to ended the game.
"We have been looking for someone to come through in a big moment and tonight Jeremy did that," Eastern Wayne head coach Jabo Fulghum said. "He had two great at-bats in the final two innings and we came away with a win."
It was not easy for the Warriors.
Eastern Wayne jumped ahead 1-0 in the bottom of the first inning, but Southern Wayne came alive in the top of the fourth inning. Taylor Raynor reached on an error and was followed by consecutive singles from Clayton Cashwell, Colton Chrisman and Jaime Dove. When the dust cleared, the Saints led 3-1.
A Saints error led to an unearned Warrior run in the bottom half of the fourth. Lancaster tied the game at 3-3 with a sixth-inning, solo home run.
"We had some chances early in the game with runners in scoring position and we couldn't get a key hit," Saints head coach Trae McKee said. "I was proud of my guys for getting it together and I thought we played hard for seven innings."
Tyler Gainey suffered the loss in relief. Jeremy Taylor pitched 42/3 innings, but took a no-decision.
Mozingo tossed 11/3 in relief of Hunter Barnett and got the win.
"I thought Zack came in and filled his role very well," Fulghum said. "Barnett pitched well, but we gave them a couple of runs with poor plays in the field and got behind."
Eastern Wayne (5-3 overall, 3-0 ECC) travels to C.B. Aycock on Tuesday, while Southern Wayne (5-3, 2-1) is the guest of South Johnston.