Northside’s season ends in first roundPublished 12:14am Wednesday, May 14, 2014
By DAVID CUCCHIARA
Washington Daily News
CERRO GORDO, N.C. – The Northside Panthers’ third-place finish in the Coastal Plains Conference earned them a first-round meeting with West Columbus, a team coming off a fourth-place finish in the Three Rivers Conference with a 15-9 record.
With a 9-11 record, head coach Gil Robbins’ team, which finished the regular season with a three-game win streak, needed to carry the momentum into Tuesday’s post-season matchup. Unfortunately for the Panthers, the Vikings sent ace Trey Benton to the hill. Benton has dominated big game situations this season, posting a 2.07 ERA in 61 innings, and on Tuesday, he shut down the Northside lineup, allowing just four base runners in a 6-0 win.
The game also marked the final appearance for Northside ace Ryan Arthur, who has thrown 74 innings this season and recorded a respectable 2.36 ERA.
A defensive blunder in the first plated Eric Jenkins to give the Vikings an early lead, one they would never relinquish. Despite allowing an earned run in the second (his only one of the game), Arthur racked up strikeouts and let his defense make plays. In the fifth inning, West Columbus broke through and capitalized on three Northside errors with four costly runs.
At the plate, Northside’s first hit of the game didn’t come until the sixth inning with two outs, a shot up the middle by sophomore Jenson Hawkins. It would be the only hit of the game for the Panthers in the end, as Benton cruised and finished with nine strikeouts.
Northside ends the season 9-12 and with just three seniors on the roster, nine players have a chance to return for Robbins next season.
West Columbus will face Voyager Academy, a No. 1 seed, or Northwest Halifax in the next round. Voyager Academy won the North Central Conference and is 15-3 this season.