Stingy defense sees Northwestern into district final

bmccormick@heraldonline.comApril 30, 2013 

Northwestern's Cameron Norwood pitches.

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Northwestern beat Easley 6-4 Tuesday night to advance to Wednesday’s District 3 baseball final against Mauldin. Josh Crump went 2-for-3 with a double and triple for the Trojans, and jump-started a pair of run-scoring innings that helped Mitch Walters’ crew keep its season alive with a second win over Easley in the last five days, despite just four hits.

“We didn’t hit it, but we got the hits when we needed it,” said Northwestern coach Mitch Walters.

On Wednesday, Northwestern will travel to Mauldin to face the Mavericks, who beat the Trojans 10-6 last Saturday. Northwestern has to win twice to advance to the Upper State championship.

“Very good team, and we’ve got to go to their place and beat them twice,” Walters said about Mauldin. “I hope we go up there and play a little better than we did Saturday here.”

Walters’ club accomplished that goal at home Tuesday night in a defensive scrap. The Trojans and the Green Wave combined for 25 runs in their first meeting last Thursday, a 16-9 win for Northwestern, but both starting pitchers were sharp in the second meeting. A pair of Easley errors ultimately cost the visitors.

“This was more of our style of game, pitching and defense,” said Easley coach Roger Findley, “and the defense let us down.”

Northwestern’s Cameron Norwood limited a power-packed Green Wave lineup to five hits and two runs, striking out five. Norwood struggled with accuracy in his previous outing against Easley, but improved to 9-0 on the season Tuesday by hitting the strike zone.

“I focused on certain mechanics in the bullpen and made sure I hit my spots tonight,” he said afterward. “That’s what got me last time, keeping the ball up and missing my spots. Do the fundamentals and it helped me out.”

Easley starter Will Hartsell, a Charleston Southern signee, was also effective, especially his swooping curve ball that put a number of Trojan batters behind in the count early.

“That’s kind of what we thought we were going to get the first time,” Walters said about Hartsell. “And Cameron pitched 10 times better than he pitched... he had control of all three of his pitches, and located better.”

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WP- Norwood; LP- Hartsell; S- Rentz. Leading hitters: Easley- Hartsell 3-4, 2 2Bs, 2 RBI, Pankake 1-3, RBI, BB; Northwestern- Crump 2-3, 2B, 3B, Norwood 2-2, RBI, BB, Smith 1-2, 2 RBI.

Records: Northwestern 25-3; Easley 14-10

Bret McCormick •  329-4032. Twitter: @BretJust1T

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