Game 3 set for today at 4 p.m.
By AARON BRENNER
Whatever it took to put runs on the scoreboard, Cam Scott and his Northside teammates were willing to do it.
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The Patriots' four-run frame was hardly the stuff of SportsCenter, but seven straight hitters reached safely -- one base at a time -- to squeeze a 7-2 victory over visiting Whitewater in their opening Georgia Class
AAAAA regional first-rounder Friday afternoon.
However, Northside (20-10) was pressed into a win-or-go-home situation when Whitewater responded with a 4-1 game two triumph. The Patriots host the Wildcats today at 4 p.m., and the survivor advances to the second round against top regional seed Evans.
In the opener, with one out in the fifth and Northside trailing by a run, leadoff hitter Cam Hopkins made his third plate appearance.
The Patriots' next seven at-bats against Whitewater pitchers Jake Lee and Cam Wesolowski produced these station-to-station results: single, walk, walk, walk, hit-by-pitch, Taylor Harper's drag bunt and an opposite-field single poked off the bat of Chad Sheppard.
"That was a big swing -- (Whitewater) helped us out there," Northside coach David Smart said. "Games like this are all about winning the freebie war, and we did in the first game, they did in the second game. That pretty much sums it up right there."
The go-ahead run was courtesy of a heads-up play by Scott; dueling a 1-2 count with the bases loaded, the senior third baseman didn't flinch on a wayward offspeed delivery, taking it off the leg to let Rob Shayne trot home from third.
"Scratching and clawing, trying to get runs, trying to win," Hopkins said. "We're kind of a battling, base-hit team. We're not very powerful; we're more base hits, bunts, walks, trying to scrap for every run."
Nothing too cute, nothing too flashy, but the damage was done and Chase Slocumb took care of the rest. Northside's senior ace earned the complete-game victory, allowing two runs (one earned) on four hits and striking out three over seven innings.
"Fastball and curveball was really working," Slocumb said. "I was just hitting my spots, and they made plays behind me."
Hopkins tripled in a run and scored on a wild pitch in the sixth, just for good measure. Michael Rossi's RBI double drew first blood for Northside in the second.
However, the Patriots couldn't give themselves the day off today, held to two hits in the nightcap.
Whitewater notched the decisive run on a tough call at home, when Taylor Turner's dribbler scored Zach Hudson, barely beating the throw from reliever Jacob Hinson.
The sixth inning offered a bizarre moment, albeit ultimately meaningless aside from the stat sheet.
Nick Fuerstenau slammed a home run with bases loaded, but when the runner on second tagged up forgetting there was two outs, he was passed by the runner on first. By rule, only one run counted, thus shrinking a would-be 7-1 lead.
But sophomore lefthander Ethan Gillis ensured it wouldn't matter. The sophomore retired his final 15 batters in succession, totaling seven strikeouts.
Smart said he and the coaching staff would discuss Friday night who will take the mound today, but added "most the time, game threes are won with the bat."
"Our whole mindset coming into this series, or any series for that matter, is to win two out of three, no matter which ones they are," Smart said. "We get to play baseball tomorrow, so that's a plus.
"Hopefully we'll put the ball in play a little better than we did the second game and take our chances."
Friday at Northside
Whitewater 000 200 0 --2 4 2
Northside 010 042 x --7 10 2
WP--Chase Slocumb (8-2). LP--Jake Lee. Leading hitters--Whitewater: Brandon Bell 1-2, 2B, R; Nick Fuerstenau 1-2, 2B, R; Taylor Turner 1-3, RBI. Northside: Cam Hopkins 3-4, 3B, 2 R, RBI; Rob Shayne 1-3, 2B, R; Handley Boyd 1-3, R; Chad Pigg 0-3, R, RBI; Taylor Harper 2-2, R, RBI; Chad Sheppard 1-2, RBI; Michael Rossi 1-3, 2B, RBI; Bennett Wilson 1-3, R.
Northside 001 000 0 --1 2 1
Whitewater 001 012 x --4 6 0
WP--Ethan Gillis. LP--Shayne. Leading hitters--Northside: Wilson 1-2, R. Whitewater: Wilkerson 2-4, 2B, 2 R; Fuerstenau 3-4, HR, 2 RBI.
Next game: Whitewater at Northside, today 4 p.m.