Rarely does a team that is a heavy favorite steal a victory, but undefeated Northwestern managed to pull off that feat in an early game Friday afternoon at the Wheels Invitational. The Trojans were expected to defeat St. Vincent Pallotti, and they literally stole their way to the 14-5 win by swiping seven bases at Northwestern High.
The Trojans also benefitted from five wild pitches from Panthers hurlers. The key inning was the third as Northwestern scratched out five runs on four stolen bases and three wild pitches. Drew Patrick led off with an infield hit and advanced to third on a wild pitch and a stolen base. After two fly-ball outs, Josh Crump walked and stole second. Jonathan Smiths base hit to centerfield plated both Patrick and Crump to put the Trojans up 3-2.
Smith stole second and went to third on a wild pitch and Cam Norwood walked and moved to second on another wild pitch. Smith and Norwood came home on Cameron Smiths single. Cameron Smith stole second and third and scored when the throw got away from the third baseman to give Northwestern a 6-2 edge.
The Panthers wildness started in the first as Dupree Hart walked to lead off, went to second on a balk, and advanced to third on a wild pitch. He made it 1-0 on Crumps groundout to short.
After the Trojans scored two in the fourth, they got four more in the fifth to open up an 8-4 game. Norwood started the inning with a double and Will Carter brought him home with a one-out single. Carter stole second, Zach Thompson reached on a base hit and stole second, and Patricks base knock brought both runners around to score. Patrick took second on the throw home. Hart bunted for a base hit and Patrick went to third.
Will Chitwoods sacrifice fly to center brought Patrick home to push the Trojans lead to 12-4 after five. Northwestern tacked on two more in the seventh to finish the scoring.
Hunter Trunk had an RBI double and Thompson had another base hit that scored a run in the inning. Thompson was 3-for-4 with a double, RBI, and two runs scored. Carter was 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored and Patrick was 3-for-4 with two RBI and three runs scored.
Justin Peddy pitched two hitless innings for Northwestern while striking out two, and Weston King closed it out with a hitless seventh.
Northwestern 8, Nansemond River 5: All the pregame talk before Northwesterns game with Nansemond River was that the Warriors, led by their big left-handed senior pitcher and University of North Carolina commitment Zach Rice, would pose the greatest threat to date to the Trojans unblemished record. And after the Warriors from Suffolk, Va., put up a three-spot in the top of the first, it looked like those concerns might be warranted.
But as the Trojans have done all season long, they answered the bell and scored five runs in the first two innings and never trailed again to pull out an 8-5 victory and remain not only perfect in the Wheels Invitational at 3-0, but perfect on the season at 17-0, going into the final day of the tournament. Rice was saddled with the loss, giving up six runs on six hits through five innings, while walking four and striking out two. Only two of the runs were earned.
The Warriors first three batters got base hits to start the game. Trevor Riggs singled and went to second on a wild pitch and Brandon Savage singled him home. Keeton Rivers followed with a hit to right field, allowing Savage to score all the way from first and Rivers to reach third. Rivers then made it 3-0, scoring on Tucker Rhoad groundout to short.
Northwestern was unfazed, and Dupree Hart once again played his leadoff role well by working a walk out of Rice. One out later, Josh Crump also walked and a passed ball moved both runners into scoring position. Jonathan Smith then reached on an infield base hit between third and the pitcher, and Hart raced home for the Trojans first run. Cam Norwood grounded to short, but the throw by the second baseman at first was wild and Crump scored to cut the deficit to 3-2.
Northwestern got right back to work in the second and manufactured three more runs to seize control. Justin Peddy reached on an error by the shortstop and J.T. Marion sacrifice-bunted him to second. Jake Rentz then bunted for a base hit down the third base line to put runners at the corners with one out. Rices pickoff attempt to first got away and Peddy came home to tie the game. Rentz and the first baseman got tangled up as Rentz tried to get up and Rentz shoved the first baseman. Both teams were warned and the two players shook hands. There were no more incidents.
Rentz then stole second, tough to do against the left-handers good pickoff move, and advanced to third on a groundout to second. Heath Sumwalt would give Northwestern their first lead with an infield base hit deep in the hole to the second basemans right. Crump followed with a double over the left-fielders head to put the Trojans up 5-3.
(Northwesterns players) knew the young guy that was throwing today is going to the University of North Carolina, Northwestern coach Mitch Walters said. They were focused, and they scored three, and we came right back and scored two and then came right back after that and went up. We had good at-bats, even when we didnt get a hit, we had a quality at-bat and made him throw five to ten pitches and got him up in his pitch count.
Things tightened up in the fourth when the Warriors Colin OBrien singled and eventually scored on Trevor Riggs base hit to trim the lead to 5-4. The Warriors knotted things up in the fifth when Keeton Rivers reached on a leadoff walk. Rivers stole second and then he was going to third on a wild pitch and after hesitating momentarily around third, headed for home. The throw home beat him there but the tag by the pitcher covering was late and the game was tied.
It wasnt tied long as the Trojans again counter-punched in their half of the fifth. Rice hit Crump to start the inning, but later used his deceptive pickoff move to catch him between first and second. However, the first basemans throw was dropped by the shortstop at second and Crump was in scoring position with nobody out. Smith gave Northwestern the lead for good with a sharp single right back up the middle into centerfield to score Crump. Crump was 2-for-2 with a double, walk, two RBI, and two runs scored, and Smith was 2-for-4 with two RBI.
Jonathan and Josh have done an excellent job for us this year as being leaders and offensively on the field, Walters said.
The Trojans will play a semifinals game Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at Northwestern.
St. Vincent Pallotti 5
Eric Taylor, Justin Peddy and Weston King; Robert Colvin, Ryan Sikorski and Colin Burns. WP - Taylor. LP - Sikorski. 2B - Ryan Hardee, Zach Thompson, Cam Norwood, Hunter Trunk (NW); Colin Burns (2), Noah Martin (SVP). 3B - Braulio Ramon (SVP). Leading hitters - NW: Norwood 2-3, 2B, BB, 3 R, Trunk RBI-2B, Will Carter 2-3, RBI, R, Thompson 3-4, 2B, RBI, 2 R, Drew Patrick 3-4, 2 RBI, 3 R.
Nansemond River 5
Colton Pagoota and Stuart Hodge; Zach Rice and Trevor Riggs. WP - Pagoota. LP - Rice. 2B - Josh Crump (NW); Keeton Rivers (NR). Leading hitters - Northwestern: Crump 2-2, 2B, BB, 2 RBI, 2 R, Jonathan Smith 2-4, 2 RBI; Nansemond River: Riggs 3-4, RBI, R, Rivers 2-3, 2B, BB, 2 R, Hunter Keisling 2-3.
York 7, St. Vincent Pallotti 2
WP - Luc Greene. LP - Nico Marchetti.