Southern Wayne upsets North Lenoir in Easter Tournament
North Lenoir’s Jamir Jones-Gatling threw 6 2/3 innings against Southern Wayne Monday, allowing just three hits in the process. Photo by William ‘Bud’ Hardy / Neuse News
LA GRANGE — Luke Davis was ready for a second chance.
The Southern Wayne pitcher threw a gem to help the Saints defeat North Lenoir 5-1 Monday in the North Lenoir Easter Tournament. The Hawks (14-5) defeated the Saints 11-2 on March 13, but Davis allowed four hits in 6 1/3 innings Monday as Southern Wayne (4-16) picked up an upset win.
During the first meeting, Davis threw just 1 2/3 innings, allowing five hits and five runs.
“It was a great experience getting back out there and helping the team get a win,” Davis said. “The last game was definitely on my mind and I’m thankful for my teammates, who played great behind me.”
Southern Wayne scored in the first inning on a Josh Wall RBI grounder and an error, then added a pair in the third with Davis’ grounder and an RBI single from Justin Edwards. Despite having just one hit over the first three innings, the Saints benefited from four North Lenoir errors and two walks.
The Hawks’ Austin Joyner led off with a single in the bottom of the third and later scored on Peyton Howard’s sacrifice fly. Three batters later, Ethan May singled and Malik Dixon sprinted toward home, but Southern Wayne rightfielder Drew Cox launched the ball to the catcher for the tag to end the inning. The Saints would end two other innings on big defensive plays, first in the fifth on second baseman Josh Raynor’s leaping catch to start a double play before a diving catch from shortstop Dylan Whitley in the sixth.
Southern Wayne added another run in the top of the seventh on a double steal.
“We’ve been more competitive lately and have struggled with one or two innings all year in games,” Saints coach Trae McKee said. “We’re better than what our record indicates, but the team’s remained competitive. Luke was big for us — he had three pitches he threw for strikes and his fastball kept hitters honest. We had one error on defense, but made up for it with a double play and they played behind Luke very well.”
For North Lenoir coach Jackson Massey a lack of hitting was the team’s downfall.
“I think we gave them way too many easy outs and popups,” Massey said. “Our goal shouldn’t be to leave the yard with every batter — we’re at our best when we’re able to manufacture runs and get guys on base. We have to clean up on defense as well, but give credit to Southern Wayne. We couldn’t hit Luke and he stuck it to us.”
North Lenoir will face Eastern Wayne Tuesday in the tournament at 6 p.m.