High school baseball: A closer look at Northside-Bainbridge

dmitchell@ledger-enquirerMarch 16, 2013 

So, Northside High won a region game in which it recorded just three hits, all singles, and two runs, which all came in innings where no hits were recorded.

Did you get all that?

It wasn't the most impressive offensive outburst from the Patriots, but there were a few things I did like that I think are worth mentioning.

First, it isn't easy to manufacture runs without getting hits. Think hard about how often you see a team score runs without the benefit of stringing a couple of hits or an extra-base hit.

Not often.

On Friday, it happened twice for the Patriots and proved to be the difference in the game. In the second and sixth innings, the Patriots got their leadoff hitters on with a walk and error, respectively, and drove them in with a combination of sacrifice bunts and hitting the ball to the right place on the infield.

Would they have rather put a couple crooked numbers up? Sure, but they didn't. And the fact that they still won is impressive.

I was also impressed by pitcher Chase Slocumb, who gave up nine hits over seven innings, but scattered them and never really got into much of a jam. He gave up a run in the fourth, but faced only four batters in the inning and got out of it without any more damage done. He faced a little trouble in the first with back-to-back hits to start the game and the seventh when he needed a throw to the plate to preserve the win.

Outside of that, he was impressive. More impressive was that he did it without the benefit of a strikeout. Like on offense, where hits are usually imperative to a good offensive performance, you expect a dominant pitching performance to feature a handful of strikeouts. Instead, Slocumb dominated hitters by locating his changeup and curveball where he wanted to, causing them to drive the ball right into the ground.

Can Northside win a lot of games that way?

Definitely not.

It is going to have to improve its hitting going forward to have a chance in the region and postseason. That said, you take any win you can get early on and hope to improve as the season progresses. Right now, the Patriots are 3-0 in region play and figure to get better.

That's not a bad place to be.

Turning point

It's hard to pick out a turning point in this game, but I guess it would have to be when Bainbridge committed an error to open the sixth inning, allowing Michael Rossi to reach base safely and, eventually, come around to score the go-ahead run on a Barrett Wilson groundout.

Key performance

Slocumb wasn't given a lot of help on offense, but still did what it took to get a big region win. Give plenty of credit to his defense, too, which didn't commit an error and came up with a timely double play.

Key decision

It looked like Northside coach David Smart was considering options when Slocumb gave up a couple of hits in the final frame, but he stuck with his starter and it paid off, albeit with a little help from his friends.

What it means

Northside is off to a good start in region play, still undefeated after three games. It may be early, but every win means a lot in region play, especially at home early in the league slate.

Noteworthy statistics

As mentioned before, Northside scored two runs without the benefit of a hit in the inning each came across the plate. That's not easy to do. Neither is shutting down an opposing offense without the benefit of a strikeout.

Quotable

"We'll take it." --David Smart, Northside coach

Follow David on Twitter @leprepsports.

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