Early in the season, small missteps cursed the East Wake baseball team and it reflected in an 0-6 start.
It was at that point coach Tony Piercy and his players agreed to break the rest of the season down into three more sets of six games, and the team set a goal of finishing with 13 wins.
The Warriors finished the second set 3-3, the third set 4-2 and were 3-0 in the fourth set after defeating Knightdale 10-0 at home on Wednesday. They also stayed in a three-way tie for second place in the Greater Neuse River 4A Conference with Clayton and Garner.
“Our defense has been doing a good job of not compounding mistakes,” Piercy said. “One small correction at a time, they started putting some wins on the board and they started buying into the attention to detail factor. It was a chicken and the egg thing.”
East Wake (10-11, 8-4 GNRC) had claimed the first game of the home-and-home series on Tuesday, winning 9-2 at Knightdale. The rematch came a day earlier than originally scheduled, to get it in ahead of Thursday’s storms.
Trevor Creech went the distance on the hill for the Warriors on Wednesday, striking out eight and allowing one Knightdale hit in the game that was called in the fifth inning due to the 10-run mercy rule.
The lone hit for Knightdale (1-19-1, 1-11) came in the opening frame as Chase Faulkner doubled, but never made it past second. Getting the bat on the ball has been a spotty endeavor all season long for the Knights, which feature a mere two seniors, Matt Wall and Dallas Savage, as normal starters.
“I thought we might struggle to score runs, but I thought we would hit the ball,” said Knightdale assistant coach Chris Smith. “Our biggest struggle is putting the ball into play. If we hit the ball, it will mask some of the other craziness. It’s hard to win games – if you don’t hit the ball, you have no shot.”
East Wake turned a reasonably close game into a runaway with a five-run second inning.
Trevor Creech’s single to right center scored Jake Murray and Peyton Creech to go up 5-0. Will Davis then hit the gap to push Trevor Creech to third, and Davis Cockrell singled down the left line to score Creech and Davis. Cockrell went on to score on an errant throw to first for the 8-0 lead.
The Warriors managed eight hits off Knightdale starter E.J. Cummings and Faulkner, who came in on relief duty in the bottom of the third. Peyton Creech led East Wake with a double and a single, and Murray had a pair of singles.
By the Numbers
3: The number of East Wake runs in the first inning. With the bases loaded, Davis walked scoring Justin Torres. Peyton Creech stole home as a Cummings pitch raced him to the plate and Trevor Creech went on to score on a wild pitch.
10: The number of runs the Warriors had on the scoreboard through three innings. Their final two notches came in another bases-loaded situation, with Trevor Creech walked to score Torres and Murray crossing home plate on another errant throw.
Knightdale closes the regular season with a series with GNRC-leading West Johnston, in Benson Tuesday and in Knightdale Thursday.
East Wake’s final stretch includes Enloe at home on Monday, and then home and away games with Harnett Central Tuesday and Thursday.
“We’ve got one more week to try to get where we want to be,” Piercy said. “If you can take care of business and get to the playoffs, anything can happen in the playoffs.”