High School Sports

Gilreath, Northwestern blank Fort Mill 4-0

Northwestern’s Will Gardiner slides safely back at first base in the Trojans’ 4-0 win on Tuesday.
Northwestern’s Will Gardiner slides safely back at first base in the Trojans’ 4-0 win on Tuesday. Special to The Herald

The Northwestern Trojans got four 2-out run-scoring hits, and six shutout innings from sophomore pitcher John Gilreath to defeat the Fort Mill Yellow Jackets 4-0 Tuesday night in Fort Mill. Gilreath went six-plus innings and only allowed three hits while striking out six and walking three. The Trojans (4-1) did all of their scoring in the first two frames.

The Northwestern offense gave Gilreath something to work with early by getting on the board in their first at-bat. Brandan Ashley’s double down the left-field line scored Cameron Smith all the way from first with two outs.

In the second, Northwestern chased Yellow Jacket starter Kyle Arrage with three more two-out hits. Kirk Clayton came home on Will Gardiner’s single to left to make it 2-0. Gardiner got all the way to third when the relay throw home was wild, which enabled him to score on Jordan Starkes’ infield hit to deep short. Andrew Shipman then doubled to the fence in center to bring in Starkes and make it 4-0 and force a pitching change.

The Yellow Jackets (1-3) did not get their first hit until Joey Tepper led off the home fourth with a single to center field.

Clay King came on in relief of Arrage with two out in the second and held the Trojans in check from there on out. He pitched 5.1 innings of shutout ball while only allowing two hits. He pitched out of trouble by stranding two runners in scoring position in the fifth inning and two more on base in the sixth.

Fort Mill got two runners on base in each of their final two at-bats but couldn’t get the big hit. Tepper walked and Koby McKinnon singled in the sixth but Gilreath recorded his sixth strikeout to get out of the jam. A base hit by Jack Corkery and walk by Logan Stone got Gilreath out of the game in the seventh but Ashley, the Trojan catcher, made a great pickoff throw and connection with Gardiner at second base to get the pinch-runner for the first out. Sophomore hurler Rob Hughs then induced a comebacker for a 1-6-3 double play to end the game.

Both teams just returned from the Baseball at the Beach tournament in Myrtle Beach, which the Trojans won by winning three of four over the weekend.

TURNING POINT

The Trojans broke it open with three second-inning runs to give Gilreath a cushion to work with and put some pressure on the young Yellow Jackets.

CRITICAL

All four runs came home courtesy of two-out base hits, three of which came in the pivotal second inning. Ashley, who had the RBI double that started the scoring in the first, connected with Gardiner for a huge pickoff of a runner at second base in the seventh with two on and nobody out after Gilreath was lifted from the game. That was a big help for the sophomore Hughs, who was facing his first batter. Hughs then got a game-ending double play which he helped turn himself.

STAR CONTRIBUTORS

Starkes reached base three times for Northwestern as did Cameron Smith. Ashley had two doubles and Gardiner was 2-for-3. Tepper was 2-for-3 for Fort Mill and Corkery reached base twice against Gilreath.

OVERHEARD

“We talked about seven one-inning games and trying to win every inning,” Northwestern coach Mitch Walters said. “And John pitched excellent tonight for his second time out.”

“That was a good job at the end by him and Gardiner to get the first out and kind of let everything relax a little bit,” Walters said of the late pickoff by Ashley and Gardiner. “It got kind of tense there at the end.”

“We like what we have,” Walters said of his young team early in the season. “Everybody wants two and we think we’ve got four good arms that we can put out there at any time.”

“It’s hard to replace Dupree,” Walters said of four-year starter and 2015 state Player of the Year, Dupree Hart, who is now at College of Charleston. “He saved a lot of runs and he scored a lot of runs, but right now we’re making the routine plays and in this game that’s all you want to make. Cameron is doing a good job at short when he’s not pitching.”

ON DECK

Fort Mill will travel to Spring Valley on Thursday.

Northwestern 4 Fort Mill 0

NW

1

3

0

0

0

0

0

-

4

7

0

FM

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

-

0

3

0

NW - John Gilreath and Rob Hughs. FM - Kyle Arrage and Clay King. WP - Gilreath. LP - Arrage. Leading hitters: NW - Jordan Starkes 1-2, RBI, R, 2 BB; Brandan Ashley 2-4, 2 2B, RBI; Will Gardiner 2-3, RBI, R. FM - Joey Tepper 1-2, BB; Jack Corkery 1-2, BB. 2B - Ashley 2, Andrew Shipman (NW). Records - Northwestern 4-1, Fort Mill 1-3.

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