Garrison, Knights shut down Spartans
Northern pitcher Zack Garrison struck out 13 Southern batters in a complete game that earned the Knights a 6-0 road win in the PAC-6 on Tuesday.
Garrison drove in three of those runs to go along with his shutout at Pete Shankle Stadium.
“He’s been on fire swinging the bat,” Northern coach Greg Pruitt said. “We played in a spring-break tournament last week, and I think he was 10-for-12 in that tournament with a home run and three doubles and had quite a few RBIs.”
Southern couldn’t get much going offensively, although Spartans catcher Josh Bumgardner hit some rockets that Northern second baseman Jacob Bierman made diving catches.
Northern roughed up Bumgardner’s big brother, Adam, who struggled over three innings while Southern fell behind 5-0.
“Adam, he struggles in the first inning,” Southern coach Avery Bryant said. “That’s been every game. We’ve won a couple of games with him struggling like that, but usually he finds himself and he starts getting confidence in himself. But when he got called on that balk, it took him out of the game.”
Bryant replaced Bumgardner with Larry Stephens, a lanky sophomore who toed the rubber in the fourth inning and started throwing heat.
“I think he’s their No. 1,” Pruitt said about Stephens. “He’s got better stuff. He’s got more velocity.”
Southern was a different team after Stephens took over.
“He can pretty much dictate the game,” Bryant said. “When he came on the mound, only one run scored.”
With one out in the bottom of the seventh, Southern’s Keywon Hayes and Kaleb Barfield kept battling, poking the ball for just enough separation to reach first base before Garrison struck out J’Mari McQueen.
Bryant said he liked the way his squad kept scrapping.
“We’re all we’ve got,” Bryant said. “We don’t win many ballgames, but we’ve got to keep fighting and maybe something will happen. Like I said, if we just put the ball in play — bunting the ball, hitting the ball, tapping it somewhere — they’re going to make an error, put some pressure on them.”
Pruitt said he wasn’t taking any chances with Southern, and that’s why he kept his main man on the mound.
“He’s our stud on the mound,” Pruitt said of Garrison. “He’s who we bank on. I wasn’t going to take these guys for granted. They have a much-improved team, and I wasn’t going to give them a reason to get excited.”
Garrison struck out the side in both the third and fourth innings.
Northern 6, Southern 0
Zack Garrison and Dillon Roberts; Adam Bumgardner, Larry Stephens (4) and Josh Bumgardner. WP—Garrison; LP—Bumgardner. Leading hitters—Northern, Josh Helm 2-4, Zack Garrison 2-4 (3B, 3 RBI); Southern, Keywon Hayes 2-3, Kaleb Barfield 2-3.
Records—Northern 7-8, 3-2 PAC-6; Southern 4-8, 0-6.