RIVALRY REMATCH: Washington, Northside meet again on the diamond

Published 5:17 pm Tuesday, March 22, 2016

MANNING THE PLATE: Cooper Anderson waits patiently at the plate for his pitch. Washington plated seven runs in its last game against Northside.

MANNING THE PLATE: Cooper Anderson waits patiently at the plate for his pitch. Washington plated seven runs in its last game against Northside.

Wednesday marks the back end of Washington and Northside’s home-and-home baseball series. The Pam Pack plays host this time after earning a 7-2 victory on Panther territory on March 9.

Washington has recently suffered a pair of one-run losses to Riverside and Edenton. The boys rallied in both games. They scored four runs in the sixth inning at home against Riverside, but couldn’t complete the comeback. At Edenton, they tied the game with five runs in the seventh, but the home side walked off with a run in the bottom of the frame.

Since then, though, the Pam Pack has built some momentum by walloping South Creek and Ayden-Grifton on the road, winning the two away affairs by a combined score of 22-1.

LAST-DITCH EFFORT: With his catcher out of commission, sophomore pitcher Zach Woolard makes an attempt to tag out a sliding Cody Godley at home.

While Washington hopes to keep rolling, the Panthers will aim to keep building momentum. Their loss to Washington began a three-game skid, which also included a 7-0 shutout at Ayden-Grifton and a 13-1 manhandling by East Carteret.

Northside coach Keith Boyd said the idea of taking on the Chargers and Mariners was to have his team see good pitching. It paid off last Friday when the Panthers downed 1-A Coastal Plains Conference opponent Pamlico County, 20-10, in six innings.

There was no shortage of offense in the contest. Northside had four innings with at least three runs scored, including five in the second and nine in the fifth. The Panthers proved in that game that they may be better prepared for the pitching they will see this time against the Pam Pack.

However, the two Ayden-Grifton games could prove to be a barometer. The Panthers only managed one hit against the Charger pitching staff while Washington handled Ayden-Grifton offensively and defensively.

Granted, Washington and Northside saw different starting pitchers at Ayden-Grifton. The common ground was relief pitcher Dakota DeLisi. He threw two hitless, shutout innings against the Panthers. Washington saw him in 4 2/3 innings of relief work. The Pam Pack hit him twice for a run and drew half a dozen walks.

Even if Northside carries over the offensive momentum its last time out, they’ll be hard pressed on the defensive end. Washington has allowed just one run in its last two games. The Pam Pack pitchers allowed just one hit in each of those games over that brief span.

EYE ON THE BALL: Senior lefty Zach Woolard eyes the opposing Pam Pack pitcher last time the two sides met. Washington earned a 7-2 win in that last game, but Northside’s offense has come into it’s own in its last couple of games.

So, while the Panthers’ offense has grown tremendously since the last time they saw Washington, their defense still has work to do, as evidenced by the 10 runs conceded to Pamlico County.

Northside stands a better chance this time around, even on enemy territory. The Panthers are in a better position to score more than the two runs they did last time, but their defense may still struggle to keep Washington at bay.

And that’s alright. Washington doesn’t start conference play until April 5 at Southwest Edgecombe. Northside is already in the thick of its conference schedule, having played a game at Bear Grass on Tuesday and hosting Jones Senior on Friday. Boyd said the team’s primary concern is the league, so this game at Washington could serve as another learning opportunity.