Pam Pack falls to Golden Demons|Had earned first
playoff win since
1998 season

Published 9:31 pm Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Sports Editor

WILSON — The Washington Pam Pack’s bus heading to Wilson Fike suffered a flat tire on the way to the game. It seemed to be a bad omen for Washington.
The Fike Golden Demons deflated the Pack’s season with a 3-2 victory in Tuesday’s second round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 3-A state playoffs. It was the farthest the Pack had gotten since 1998, when it was also ousted in the second round.
Pam Pack coach Darin Vaughan had a short but poignant talk with his team at the end of the game.
“I told the guys that I’m really proud of them for what they have done over the last year and one week,” said Vaughan, who guided the Pack to a 12-11 overall record. “The strides that they have made and the work that they have put into this, along with the commitment they have made, I’m extremely proud of every single one of them.”
The Golden Demons (14-8), the third seed out of the NEW 6 Conference, overcame an early 2-0 deficit. The Pack, the fourth seed from the Coastal Conference, gave Fike extra opportunities with five costly errors.
“There were certainly some things that didn’t go our way,” Vaughan said. “When you lose 3-2 in the second round of the state playoffs, no matter how it happens, it’s going to be heartbreaking.”
The Pack jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the second inning. Gator Moore drew a leadoff walk against Fike starter Mitchell Wheeler (2 runs, 4 hits, 2 strikeouts, 5 walks in 4 innings).
After a Gil Broadway one-out single, Cole Hartley drew a walk to load the bases. One out later, Jimmy Hardison earned the third walk of the inning, scoring Moore for the 1-0 lead.
Moore, who stole two bases and scored both of the Pack’s runs, came up big again in the third. He drew a two-out walk, stole second and raced home on a Justin Meekins single into center.
The Pack threatened again in the fourth, but right fielder Richard Carr robbed Austin Thompson of extra bases when he made a sensational catch with two outs and the bases loaded.
Washington went on to leave eight runners on base.
Pack sophomore starter Hatteras Brooks was brilliant through four innings. He scattered three hits while striking out three and walking two in four innings of shutout ball.
Fike tied the game at 2-2 in the fifth off Washington reliever Michael Goldberg, although Goldberg didn’t allow a hit. Wheeler drew a leadoff walk. David Gibbons then reached on a throwing error, and the two runners raced into second and third. Russell Ward’s sac fly scored Wheeler, while Gibbons trotted home when Tripp Sauls reached on another Pack error.
The Demons scored the game-winner in the sixth off losing pitcher Michael Robinson. Carr reached on an infield hit and Michael Brown followed with a bunt single. Carr was thrown out at third on Michael McLawhorn’s fielder’s choice.
It appeared Wheeler had then bounced into a potential inning-ending double play, but the Pack’s fifth error of the game allowed Brown to score for a 3-2 lead.
Fike reliever William Prince, who threw three innings of no-hit ball with three strikeouts, retired the Pack in order in the seventh to end it and get the victory.
The Demons will play at West Brunswick (19-5), a 7-6 winner over D.H. Conley, in the third round.
Vaughan and the Pack will regroup and get ready for next year.
“I want to see the same type of improvement that we had over the last year, and see if we can get the same type of commitment from some of those younger guys like we had from the senior class,” Vaughan said. “If we can do that, I’ll feel really positive about it.
“We have some big holes to fill with guys who have been mainstays in the lineup. It’s going to be somebody else’s turn to step in and get it done.”