You can disregard East Wake’s pedestrian 13-11 record, as the Warriors have picked the right time to play their best baseball of the season.
Will Davis tossed a three-hitter and East Wake struck for two first-inning runs before holding on for a 2-1 victory over visiting South Central in a N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A first-round game on Tuesday.
Playing in its first state playoff home game since 2007, No. 13 seed East Wake won its eighth straight game and earned the opportunity to play fourth-seeded Green Hope, an 8-1 winner over Garner on Tuesday, in a second-round contest at a date to be determined later this week.
“Our attention to detail has been better,” said East Wake coach Tony Piercy, when asked to pinpoint the reason for his team’s turnaround. “Earlier in the year we were giving away free bases, giving away at-bats, but we’re doing the little things right.”
“You saw it (Tuesday), executing the cut-offs, making our throws. We had several guys with 8-to-10 pitch at-bats, that’s huge this time of year.”
Small ball helped stake East Wake to an early 2-0 lead.
After Justin Torres and Jake Murray opened the bottom of the first inning with back-to-back singles, Peyton Creech reached on a bunt single down the third-base line, Torres scoring on the play on an errant throw to put East Wake ahead, 1-0.
One out later, East Wake successfully pulled off a suicide squeeze when Murray scored on a bunt by Davis, easily beating South Central pitcher Quentin Paterson’s throw home on the play for a 2-0 East Wake lead.
That would be enough support for Davis. Aptly nicknamed “Stallion” for his workhorse qualities – the right-hander had six complete games in Greater Neuse River Conference regular-season play – Davis struck out six and kept the Falcons’ scoring chances to a minimum.
His only significant trouble came in the fourth inning. South Central drew within 2-1 on Jackson Baker’s two-out RBI single to center, plating Steven Edmundson, and when Baker stole second the Falcons had the tying run in scoring position.
Davis, however, ended the threat by striking out Adam Harris. He allowed only one base-runner the final two innings, striking out Jordan Dail in a 1-2-3 seventh inning to end the game.
“They hit some balls early but the guys made some nice plays behind me,” Davis said. “It helped me relax a little bit, and the fastball and the curveball worked for me.”
Paterson pitched well in a losing effort for South Central. He went four innings, giving up four hits – one after the first inning – and two runs while striking out three. Unfortunately, his teammates weren’t able to provide the support needed as the Falcons finished 16-9.
“They were the better baseball team (Tuesday), they were ready to play and our kids weren’t, it’s as simple as that,” South Central coach Robert Langston said. “First inning was big and it stood up.”