For the second time in three days, the Northwestern Trojans set the tone early with three first-inning runs against a city rival, and they also improved their unblemished record to a perfect 12 wins and no losses. Perhaps more importantly, Thursday night’s 6-1 victory over the visiting Rock Hill Bearcats pushes their Region 3-AAAA mark to 8-0.
“We try to win one inning at a time,” Northwestern coach Mitch Walters said. “Seven one-inning games. We had a chance to blow it open early and give Rock Hill credit, they made some pitches and kept it close.”
Shortstop Dupree Hart proved to be the key table-setter for the Trojans as he battled back from a 1-2 count to earn a walk to lead off the home team’s first at-bat. Bearcat hurler Will Reid then hit Heath Sumwalt with a pitch and Josh Crump brought the speedy Hart home with a base hit to left field. The left-fielder could not field it cleanly, allowing both runners to move up a base. An error by the second baseman on Jonathan Smith’s grounder enabled both runners to score to make it 3-0. Reid escaped more trouble after another hit and a third error loaded the bases with nobody out. He struck out two straight batters before getting the third out on another grounder to second.
Hart struck again to lead off the second with a triple to the left-centerfield gap. An infield single by Sumwalt allowed Hart to race home with the Trojan’s fourth run. Hart would also draw a lead-off walk in the sixth, steal second, advance to third on a throwing error by the catcher, and score on Crump’s grounder to second for his third run scored of the game.
“He’s an all-around ballplayer,” Walters said of Hart.
Garrett Rast singled to lead off the Trojan third and scored on Colton Pagoota’s double to make it 5-0.
Northwestern starter Jake Rentz sailed through the first five innings on the hill before the Bearcats got to him for three hits in the sixth. Chase Watts’ base hit to left plated Tad Martin to put Rock Hill on the board. Watts was 3-for-3 for the game.
The Bearcats started the seventh with two solid hits but Rentz induced a grounder to short for a force-out at second, and Jordan Kimbrell lined out to the second baseman Smith who fired to first to double off the runner and end the game. Kimbrell had two infield hits for Rock Hill. Rentz scattered eight hits and did not walk a batter.
Chandler Hancock came on in the fourth for the Bearcats in relief of Reid and gave up only the unearned run to Hart in the sixth. He did not allow a hit and struck out three.
Northwestern 6, Rock Hill 1
Jake Rentz; Reid, Hancock. WP - Rentz. LP - Reid. 2B - Pagoota (NW).3B - Hart (NW). Leading hitters - Northwestern: Hart 1-2, 3B, 2 BB, SB, 3 R, Sumwalt 2-3, RBI, R, Crump 2 RBI, SB. Rock Hill: Watts 3-3, RBI, Kimbrell 2-3. Records: Northwestern 12-0, 8-0 Region 3-AAAA; Rock Hill 7-9, 4-5.