NHS to clash with Knights
YEATESVILLE — With its 10-0 win over Mattamuskeet the Northside baseball team picked up its first playoff victory in a quite some time, however, getting a second one figures to be a bit more challenging.
A well balanced hitting display by the Panthers allowed them to surf past the Lakers in the first round of the NCHSAA 1-A playoffs as Grey Burbage went 2-3 with three RBIs, Neal Gibbs went 2-3 and Dillon Cutler, Ben Hudson and Brandon Marsh each added a base hit themselves to advance.
Marsh, who crossed home three times, also earned the win as he struck out nine batters in five innings before Ryan Arthur fanned three in the sixth to seal the deal, while senior Tyler Waters threw out a runner at home to wrap up a solid overall game for the Panthers.
“We’re excited. It’s the first time we have had a playoff win in baseball in seven or eight years,” Northside coach Keith Boyd said. “I think the expectations of what can happen is up to them. Right now they are dreaming big but we just got to take it game by game.”
The next game will come tonight as No. 5 seed Northside (14-10) will travel to face Four Rivers Conference rival No. 2 Riverside (14-11) in what promises to be dynamite matchup.
The two teams have faced off twice this season with each winning once. In the first matchup Northside mashed the ball and Marsh, who is expected to take the mound tonight, quieted the Knights’ lineup en route to a 12-3 victory. The second time around the pitching was stellar on both sides but Riverside’s Lucas Gloover, who is in line to pitch tonight, got the upper hand in a tight 2-1 victory.
With both teams trotting out aces for their second round matchup, Boyd said the Panthers will need to continue to get production from its entire lineup.
“It just seems like with the four or five at the bottom (of the lineup) there is somebody always different that comes through for you,” Boyd said. “The two in particular – Ben Hudson and Grey Burbage — you almost expect it out of them. The last three or four ball games they have been hitting the ball well. When it becomes the entire lineup that is playing well it makes it pretty easy to do things as a coach as far as bunting and running.”
Riverside coach Hank Tice and his club know a thing or two about manufacturing runs as well. The Knights were able to edge past their first round opponent East Carteret 2-1 in eight innings in front of a frenzied home crowd thanks to game-winning rally that started with Caleb Whitley getting hit by a pitch and getting bunted over to second before Gurganus was intentionally walked, and Gloover drew a walk, to set up a game-clinching sac fly by Isaac Rodgers.
Tice, whose program perennially makes playoff runs, said at the end of the day it’s all about which team rises to the occasion.
“Both teams are solid defensively, both teams are going to have a solid pitcher on the mound and it’s going to come down to who can make plays. That’s just what the playoffs is about. It’s about pitching and playing defense and finding a way to score a few runs,” Tice said.
Whoever can do that will move on to face the winner of another Four Rivers Conference matchup between No. 1 Perquimans-No.4 Manteo in the third round of the postseason.