In baseball, every day is a different game. Sometimes you win by being opportunistic and taking advantage of what the opponent gives you.
A day after pounding out 18 hits to defeat Mamaroneck (N.Y.) 13-7, Northwestern capitalized on 10 wild pitches and passed balls and 10 walks to defeat the Christiansburg (Va.) Blue Demons 12-1 Thursday in the Wheels Invitational. The Trojans did not get their first hit until Ryan Hardee led off the fourth with a double, and they had five total hits for the game.
“We kind of just went through the motions,” Northwestern coach Mitch Walters said. “We had some good hustle plays but we had a lot of loafing plays too. All you can do is tell ‘em or set ‘em. We won but we’ve got plenty of things we can improve on.”
Colton Pagoota started on the mound for Northwestern and went the full five innings, only allowing one first-inning run and four hits. He did not walk or strike out a batter.
“That’s the best Colton has pitched in two-and-a-half weeks,” Walters said.
Christiansburg has only scored three runs in three games in the tournament, and they are 1-2. The Trojans moved to 2-0.
The Blue Demons took the lead in the top of the first. Pagoota hit Ryan Saunders with a pitch to lead off the game, and Ashton King followed by pushing a bunt down the first-base line and beating it out for a base hit. Saunders would move to third on a groundout and score on Brodyn Huddleston’s sacrifice fly to centerfield.
Northwestern took the lead for good in the home half of the inning. Dupree Hart, Drew Patrick and Josh Crump all walked. King and his catcher Huddleston had a hard time connecting and the Trojans took advantage. King was having control problems and Huddleston had trouble keeping the ball in front of him. As a result, three wild pitch/passed ball combos moved Hart all the way around to score and tie the game.
The third was ball four to Patrick and he hustled to second. Two more pitches that ended up at the backstop – the second being the fourth ball to Crump –allowed Patrick to come home. King was then lifted for Drew Dunn who retired the next three batters to escape further damage.
Hart and Crump again reached on walks in the third for the Trojans but were stranded in scoring position when Dunn struck out Pagoota.
The Trojans would bat around in the final two innings. In both, the Blue Demons threw two wild pitches and committed a costly error. After Hardee’s double in the fourth, he and Cameron Smith, who walked, would score on a throwing error by the third baseman. Back-to-back triples by Hart and Crump would then plate two more, and Crump aggressively raced home on a wild pitch and beat the catcher’s tag to make the lead 7-1.
In the fifth, Justin Peddy and Tripp Barringer walked, Hart was hit by a pitch, and Patrick walked to score a run. An error at second allowed two more to score and after Garrett Rast walked, Will Carter ended it with a two-out rope to right-center that brought home two for the final margin.
Hart reached base all four at-bats, as did Crump, and Patrick walked twice. Hardee was 2 for 3. Northwestern takes on Marist (N.J.) at 7 p.m. Friday.
Northwestern 12 Christiansburg 1
Colton Pagoota. Ashton King and Drew Dunn. WP - Pagoota. LP - King. 2B - Ryan Hardee (NHS). 3B - Dupree Hart and Josh Crump (NHS). Leading hitters: NHS - Hart 3-3, 3B, 2 BBs, HBP, RBI, 3 R; Drew Patrick 2 BBs, RBI, 2 R; Crump 3B, 2 BB, RBI, 2 R; Hardee 2-3, 2B, R.
Records (Wheels): Northwestern 2-0; Christiansburg 1-2.
Mamaroneck (N.Y.) 16, Christiansburg 0: Mamaroneck starting pitcher Tom Muratore pitched all five innings of shutout ball and the Tigers’ offense scored early and often to defeat Christiansburg 16-0 Thursday at Northwestern.
Mamaroneck 16, Christiansburg 0
WP - Tom Muratore. LP - Kellen Larlen. Leading hitters: Mamaroneck - Anthony Pecora 2-2, BB; Andy Karlan 3-3, 3B, 2 RBI. Record: Mamaroneck 4-3, 1-1 Wheels.