05/20/12 — Warriors sweep series

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Warriors sweep series

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on May 20, 2012 1:52 AM

WILSON -- After a dramatic, made-for-Hollywood victory over a long-time nemesis, Wayne Country Day had hoped to write a sequel against a perennial prep baseball powerhouse.

Lawrence Academy ruined the script.

The Warriors penned another state-title season instead with 11-1 and 13-1, mercy-rule triumphs over the Chargers in the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association Class 1-A best-of-three championship series at historic Fleming Stadium. Top-seeded Lawrence (26-8 overall) claimed an unprecedented fifth consecutive state crown and sixth overall since 2002.

"Every year, they're in the finals," WCDS head coach Michael Taylor. "If you want to win a state championship, you've got to beat Lawrence. I was excited just to have a chance to be in the state championship series coming from where we were at the beginning of the year to where are now.

"I was just so excited for my boys to have an opportunity to play in a state championship game. I wish the outcome was a little different, but I'm proud of my boys and the hard work they've put in this year."

The third-seeded Chargers managed just six hits in 10 innings against three Warrior hurlers -- Cody Ambrose, Dallas Belch and Walker Jennette. Ambrose permitted five hits in a complete-game performance on Friday. Belch and Jennette combined for a one-hitter in the decisive contest Saturday afternoon.

All-State selection Cole Davis had two hits, including a double and an RBI in the two-game series. Fellow All-State pick Cody Neal contributed one hit along with Mason Bland, Joshua Jackson and Thomas Kierski.

Trent Proimos, one of four seniors, scored the Chargers' lone run in the second game. He drew a one-out walk, advanced to second on a balk, took third on a wild pitch and scored on Mitchell Turnage's groundout to short.

"Their pitchers had a lot of good location, were using their off-speed pitches ... curveball, change-up ... just really keeping us off-balance," said Neal, who was named the Coastal Plains Independent Conference player-of-the-year.

Lawrence cranked out 26 hits against four WCDS hurlers -- Neal, Davis, Kierski and John Strickland. Strickland employed a slow curveball that effectively cooled down the aggressive-hitting Warriors for three-plus innings Friday evening.

Warriors first baseman Zach Eubanks crushed a two-run home run Friday and finished the series with two hits, a double and four RBI. Ryan Lilley batted 3-for-3 in the second game and all nine Lawrence starters had at least one hit.

The Chargers obliged with eight costly errors that led to 13 unearned runs in the series.

"Tough two games," said Davis, who also earned All-CPIC accolades. "They've got a solid staff and they've got a lot of talent. It just seemed like they out-played us."

Wayne Country Day continued its late-season surge with a come-from-behind, 4-3 triumph over Greenfield on Friday afternoon. Knights right-hander Tas Pittman carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning before Kierski connected on a one-out single.

Facing a shutout loss, the Chargers pulled off a miraculous seventh-inning rally. Pinch-hitter Wyatt Bland drew a lead-off walk, Neal reached on an infield error and Davis closed the gap to 3-2 with a base hit.

Senior Hil Tanner, who grabbed a spot on the All-CPIC squad, walked and Jackson juiced the bases with an infield single. Greenfield conceded the game-tying run on Kierski's RBI groundout.

Tanner tallied the game-winning run on a passed ball.

"We just came out and wanted to have fun (today)," Tanner said. "This was the last few games for our seniors and we wanted to enjoy it regardless of the outcome. I know I had fun."

The Chargers (15-10) made their first championship series appearance since beating Lawrence for the state title in 2007, and just their third overall in program history since 1978. The No. 1-ranked Warriors have played in nine straight final fours and 12 overall since 2000.

Lawrence has won 22 consecutive playoff games.