Maybe the Northwestern Trojans were a little nervous ahead of their region opener Tuesday night against South Pointe, but they didn’t show it, beating the Stallions 17-4 in five innings.
In a game with a slew of fumbles, drops, errant throws and unsure gloves, Northwestern made the least mistakes to move to 1-0 on the season.
“This is our regular season opener so we were kind of anxious too,” said Northwestern head coach Mitch Walters. “We’re happy we won. We made a ton of mistakes but we took advantage of the mistakes they made. But we’ve got plenty on our plate that we need to work on too.”
Walters’ team should have gotten three or four games in last weekend, but the Baseball at the Beach Tournament was canceled due to crummy weather in Myrtle Beach. After a weekend full of intrasquad scrimmages, the Trojans were eager to hit the diamond Tuesday against a different-colored set of jerseys.
“We were very excited, just wanted to come out here with a lot of energy and show everybody what we’ve been working on since November,” said centerfielder Josh Crump, who had a major night at the plate, going 2-for-2 with a walk, a sacrifice fly and five runs batted in.
Northwestern bashed open a 1-1 game with a two-out rally in the bottom of the second inning. A pair of South Pointe errors helped Will Carter score and put Trip Barringer on the basepaths. Dupree Hart walked and Ryan Hardee was hit by a pitch from Stallion starter Chris Beamguard, loading the bags with two outs.
Crump, who has signed with Coastal Carolina to play ball next season, bashed a triple to the base of the centerfield wall, scoring all three Trojans on base to make the score 5-1. Another error allowed Crump to score from third before Colton Pagoota smoked an RBI double over Stallion centerfielder Josh Massey’s head to make it 6-1. Justin Peddy then looped a two-run single into leftfield and later scored on a wild pitch. After the dust settled and the sun set, the Trojans had pushed eight runs across with two outs, and led 10-1 headed to the third.
There is no question Crump is one of the leaders of this bunch of Trojans, a role with which he’s truly comfortable, especially with teammates on base.
“For four years I’ve just been working on being relaxed and going up there and having faith in my talents,” he said after the game.
Hart, the junior shortstop, is another one of the team’s sure-things; he went 2-for-2 at the plate with two walks and three runs scored from the leadoff spots. Colton Pagoota was 2-for-4 with two RBI and a walk, and Justin Peddy went 1-3 with a pair of runs knocked in. Seventeen runs in the first true game of the season suggest there is some firepower for the Trojans to lean upon.
“We had a good core coming back and we have some guys that have been here and done the work,” said Walters, whose team plays on the road Wednesday at Gaffney.
Junior Eric Taylor started on the mound for Northwestern, which has to replace its top three starting pitchers from last season. Taylor threw four innings, striking out four batters and walking one, while allowing five hits and four runs.
“He was a little nervous, his first varsity start,” Walters said about Taylor. “We understood that. He could locate a little better but we told him not to beat himself up, and he’ll get the ball next Tuesday again.”
SP 1;0;3;0;0- 4;5;5
NW 1;9;1;6- 17;10;0
SP- Beamguard 1 2/3, Wade Hopper, Jake Riggins; NW- Eric Taylor 4, Stewart Hodge, Grant Golke. SP- Hopper 1-3, 2 RBI, 2B; Josh Massey 0-1, 2 BB. NW- Dupree Hart 2-2, 2 BB, 3 R; Josh Crump 2-2, BB, sac fly, 5 RBI; Colton Pagoota 2-4, 2 RBI, BB; Garrett Rast 1-2 RBI, BB; Justin Peddy 1-3, 2 RBI; Will Carter 0-1, 2 RBI, HBP.