Cameron Smith only allowed one run in 5 2/3 innings pitched, and Grant Golke had three RBIs to lead the Northwestern Trojans over the Hillcrest Rams 4-1 in 4A playoff baseball Saturday at Northwestern. Smith also had an RBI-double and all of the Trojans’ runs were driven in on two-out hits. Smith did not allow his first base hit until there was one out in the Rams’ fifth inning.
Northwestern got on the board first in the third inning when Smith doubled to the right-field corner to score Will Hagood, who had singled.
Golke followed that with a bloop to right that was just out of the reach of the diving right-fielder and drove home Smith for a 2-0 score.
The Trojans got some insurance in the fifth. With one out, Hagood reached on an infield hit and Dupree Hart walked. After Smith grounded into a fielder’s choice, Golke again came through with two outs by again going to right to plate two more and make it 4-0.
“I bet today was the most two-out hits we’ve had all year,” Northwestern coach Mitch Walters said. “The last three games we haven’t scored more than three so that’s why we’re trying to squeeze and steal third. We’re trying to steal a run or manufacture a run someway, somehow. We practiced two days with a lefty coming on a good approach and hitting back side, and I think all of our hits were to center or right.”
In fact, six of their seven hits were to center or right, with the exception being Hagood’s infield single to deep short.
Northwestern is now 2-0 in the playoffs and will play at home on Wednesday evening. It has been an up-and-down season after the Trojans fell just short in the state finals last season against Sumter.
“We feel like we’re playing with house money,” Walters said. “I don’t think anybody thought we would be here. I saw some things earlier in the year that didn’t even have us making the playoffs. Everything we get now is a plus.”
The Trojans turned three double plays behind Smith and catcher Brandan Ashley made a great catch of a foul pop against the fence right by the Hillcrest dugout in the fifth. That catch came the batter after the Rams’ first hit and with runners on first and second and one out. Hillcrest put together three hits in the sixth to get on the scoreboard.
Rams’ lefty Charlie Bishop allowed four runs on seven hits in six innings, while striking out seven and walking three.
Northwestern 4, Hillcrest 1
Cameron Smith and Tripp Barringer. Charlie Bishop. WP - Smith. SV - Barringer. 2B - Smith, Grant Golke (NW). Leading hitters - NW: Smith 1-2, SAC, 2B, RBI, 2 R; Golke 2-3, 2B, 3 RBI; Will Hagood 2-2, 2 R. HC: Nate Calvert 1-1, 2 BB.