SLAM INTO SEMIS
Northwood started off wobbly but gained stability after a second-inning grand slam settled the Chargers in the 2-A baseball playoffs on Wednesday.
“That hurt,” Carrboro coach Nat Tyndall said.
Northwood beat Carrboro 9-3 to advance to the state semifinals against North Brunswick in what will be a best-of-three series beginning Friday at 7 p.m. at Northwood. Game 2 is 7 p.m. Saturday at North Brunswick, and Game 3, if needed, would be at 6 p.m. Monday at Northwood.
Carrboro grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first inning against Northwood after two errors by Chargers third basemen Trevor Hackney.
Hackney redeemed himself in the bottom of the first, driving in a run that evened the score.
In the bottom of the second, Carrboro starter Ben West hit Northwood’s Jordan Riggsbee to load the bases for Andrew Webster, who creamed one 345 feet to give the Chargers some breathing room with a 6-2 lead.
That was Webster’s third home run in the playoffs, Northwood coach Rick Parks said.
“Big-time player,” Parks said.
One of Webster’s pokes in the playoffs was a game-winning home run, Parks said.
“He’s really torn it up in the playoffs,” Parks said about Webster, Northwood’s all-time hits leader.
Carrboro pitcher Seth Andres relieved West in the fourth inning. Tyndall said his plan was to start Andres, but he changed his mind and gambled on starting West.
“(Andres) had gone to Northwood, and he had been cut and they said he would never play varsity baseball there. So he transferred to Carrboro for his senior year,” Tyndall said. “But we knew that they had had a little bit of trouble against some left-handed (pitchers). Since it was so hot, I was hoping to steal a few innings from the lefty (West).”
West put a couple of runners on base by hitting them with pitches, and Carrboro’s defense let him down, Tyndall said.
“But the grand slam — that hurt. That made the coach’s plans seem like a bad idea,” Tyndall said, referring to himself.
After starting the game with a couple of fielding blunders, Hackney ended the game with two clean scoops from the hot corner, throwing out Carrboro’s remaining batters.
“We had a little game pressure on us there early in the game. It’s been a while since we’ve been on the field,” Parks said.
Carrboro’s baseball program, including the junior varsity squad, has just 23 players, which creates challenges in terms of achieving success, Tyndall said, hoping the Jaguars’ postseason run will generate more interest.
“If you had told me that we would’ve gone this far, I would have just said you were crazy, because we just didn’t show that during the regular season,” Tyndall said.
Northwood 9, Carrboro 3
Carrboro 200 010 0 — 3 5 1
Northwood 240 120 x — 9 8 2
Ben West, Seth Andres (4th) and Spencer Brown; Clark Streets and Andrew Webster. W—Streets, L—West. Leading hitters — Carrboro, Lee Mook 2-3, West 1-3, John Davis 1-3, Jeff Strongoli 1-4. Northwood, Webster 4-4 (HR, 2 2B, 6 RBI), Justin King 2-4 (RBI).
Records — Carrboro 13-12, Northwood 23-5.