Two defensive miscues nearly let Northwestern’s lead slip Saturday afternoon in the semifinals of the Wheels Baseball Invitational against Covenant Day. So it was a spot of retribution that a Gold Glove defensive play by shortstop Dupree Hart helped the Trojans stave off the Lions’ comeback in a 4-3 win.
The host Trojans built a 4-0 lead by the sixth inning, but two errors in the top of that frame led to three Covenant Day (14-5) runs. After Northwestern (18-0) failed to score in the bottom half, the momentum was squarely with the plucky private school team as they picked up the bats in the top of the seventh looking to take the lead.
The leadoff hitter, Bryan Clark, smoked a Jake Rentz offering to the left side of the infield that looked like a sure base hit. But Hart scampered to his right, slid on one knee and back-handed the grounder. He wheeled and delivered a dart to first base, burning Clark to a roar of approval from the Northwestern players and fans.
“I’ve got to watch him in the summer, he’s a special young man,” said Covenant Day coach David Houseman. “To make that kind of play, you just have to tip your cap to him.”
With a wide smile, Houseman actually did that right after the play.
“We’ve gotten kind of use to Dupree making that kind of play,” said Trojan coach Mitch Walters. “He did a good job, and that kind of hurt them.”
Hart’s play didn’t end the game, or even save the game. But it did put a stamp on the contest that suggested the undefeated Trojans weren’t going to lose in the semifinals if he had anything to do with the outcome, especially on an afternoon when they only mustered four hits.
The Trojans still had work to do after a walk and another error, their fourth of the game, put two Covenant Day runners on base, but Rentz eventually got a ground-out to end the game and send the Trojans into the final.
“If we just make routine plays, that game is 4-0,” said Walters, who was pleased with his pitchers, Cameron Norwood and Rentz. “They got ground balls and that’s all you can ask for.”
James Dillon; Cameron Norwood (3), Jake Rentz (4); WP- Norwood, LP- Dillon; Leading hitters: Covenant Day- Peter Englert 2-3, RBI, Garrett Vaughan 2-3, RBI, Matthew Cotto 1-2, 2B; Northwestern- J.T. Marion 1-2, 2 RBI, sac fly, Drew Patrick 0-1, RBI, sac fly, Colton Pagoota 1-2, BB.
Records: Northwestern 18-0; Covenant Day 14-5.
Final pool game: Rock Hill 11, St. Edward 1
Consolation games: York 11, Rocky River 7; South Pointe 14, St. Vincent Pallotti 5