The Northwestern Trojans scored seven runs in the first two innings and held on from there for a 9-5 win over the Gaffney Indians on Military Appreciation Night Monday at Northwestern. There was a recognition of some military members before the game and even a ceremonial first pitch. The Trojans were wearing special camoflage uniforms for the occasion.
“It’s been in the works for a while and the parents got involved and did a nice job getting the jerseys for the boys,” Northwestern coach Mitch Walters said.
Then the home team went on the attack with four runs on four hits in the first frame. Cam Smith and Kirk Clayton had RBI-base hits to center in the inning and Will Hagood drove in two with his single to left as Northwestern batted around.
With one out in the second, Andrew Shipman tripled to the fence in right field just out of the reach of the fielder to plate two more. He raced home on a wild pitch for the 7-0 advantage. Shipman was 1-for-2 with two walks, two RBI, and two runs scored.
Gaffney had three runners reach in the fourth but could not score. The Indians finally broke through in the fifth for three runs on four hits.
Jeff Taylor singled and came home on a solid base hit to left by Brandan Ashley in the home fifth to make it 8-3.
Jacob Best took John Gilreath deep over the left-field fence for a solo homer for the Indians in the top of the sixth.
Will Gardiner scored for the third time of the night in the Trojans’ sixth after reaching on a walk. A wild pitch brought him in.
The visitors put three more on in the seventh, one on an error, but only plated one on a wild pitch by Gilreath for the final score of 9-5.
Gilreath went the distance and allowed five runs on ten scattered hits, while striking out six and walking two.
Northwestern jumped out to an early insurmountable lead with seven runs on six hits in the first two innings. Four different players had run scoring hits in the two frames, with Hagood and Shipman both bringing in two fellow Trojans. The Indians had one baserunner in their first two at-bats.
Walters said the key was his players coming with the right mindset right from the start of the game.
“Tonight we came focused, came ready to play,” Walters said. “I mean you’re dealing with high school students and you’ve got to try to keep their attention. And that’s all I told them right there (after the game) that if we come ready to play, we’ve got a fighting chance.
Andrew Shipman was 1-for-2 with two walks, two RBI, and two runs scored for Northwestern.
“That’s his first complete game and we wanted him to finish it,” Walters said of starting pitcher John Gilreath. “He hasn’t had one this year just because the pitch count wasn’t up. We want him to get his stamina up.”
Northwestern 9 Gaffney 5
John Gilreath. Austin Duckett, Damion Eubanks, and Josh Gregory. WP - Gilreath. LP - Duckett. 2B - Joseph Mabry (GHS). 3B - Andrew Shipman (NHS). HR - Jacob Best (GHS). Leading hitters - NHS: Shipman 1-2, 2 BB, 2 RBI, 2 R. GHS: Houston Wright 2-4; Trent McDaniel 2-4.