East Chapel Hill holds off Northern in key PAC-6 baseball game
East Chapel Hill guarded its diamond and got an 8-4 win with counterpunches that held off a late Northern flurry on Friday.
Northern’s Knights provided the highlights with A.J. Bumpass’ deep shot that almost left the yard for a third-inning double, and Zack Garrison cleared the fence with a homer in the fourth.
Northern made more noise in the top of the sixth by getting within a run of tying what was a 4-3 game.
But ECH came up with three hits in the bottom of the sixth and capitalized on a couple of Northern errors for four runs to pull away.
“We just got outplayed. Simple as that,” Northern coach Greg Pruitt said. “We got outhit. We got outplayed. I’m not going to say that our guys didn’t try. (The Wildcats) were a better team tonight.”
ECH starter John Page controlled the game, not giving up much, those bombs from Bumpass and Garrison notwithstanding.
Page was in a tough spot during the sixth inning when Northern rallied. The Knights had scored twice and were threatening with runners on the corners and two out.
“Time!” ECH coach Phil Woodell said, walking toward the mound.
Earlier in the game, Woodell huddled by the rubber with Page, who told his coach that he was fine.
This time, Woodell replaced Page with Sean Moore, who struck out Mack Fenlon to stop the bleeding, bringing the Wildcats to the plate where they ripped into the Knights for those four insurance runs.
The decision to put the ball in Moore’s hand was no indictment on Page, Woodell said.
“He’d done his job,” Woodell said.
Page, however, did struggle to pitch ahead of the count, and that was costing him, Woodell said.
“He was paying some price for that,” Woodell said. “He didn’t want to come out, but his pitch count was up to 85.”
While the Knights didn’t play up to Pruitt’s standards, Woodell pointed out that Northern has beaten every team in the PAC-6, including a very strong Riverside squad.
“We were just holding on trying to get out of that one inning with the lead, and then we got it,” Woodell said. “Then we got a break on a defensive error. We were lucky, got a hit, scored the guy.”
NOTES — The loss dealt a potentially fatal blow to Northern’s hopes of finishing in the top two in the conference. Both first-place Jordan and second-place Riverside have just two conference losses and Jordan improved to 8-2 in the PAC-6 with a 19-0 rout of Hillside Friday. Riverside improved to 7-2 in league play with a 16-2 win over Southern and has three PAC-6 games left. Jordan and Northern each have two regular season conference games left to play. ... The top four finishers in the conference earn automatic berths in the state 4-A playoffs.
East Chapel Hill 8, Northern 4
Northern 000 102 1—4 9 2
East Chapel Hill 110 024 x—8 10 2
Batteries—Northern, Josh Helm, Zack Garrison (5th) and Dillon Roberts; East Chapel Hill, John Page, Sean Moore (6th) and Josh Baldwin. WP—Page, LP—Helm. Leading hitters—Northern, A.J. Bumpass 3-4 (2B), Zack Garrison 2-4 (HR, 2 RBI); East Chapel Hill, Walker Hayter 2-4 (2B), Jamari Burk 2-4.
Records—Northern 11-12, 6-4 PAC-6 4-A; East Chapel Hill 12-8, 5-4 PAC-6