Richmond Hill, Ga. -- Northside's 2014 season came to a disappointing end on Friday as the Patriots suffered a sweep at the hands of Richmond Hill in the opening round of the GHSA playoffs. The Wildcats used a dramatic comeback in the opening game to win 3-2 and then got a strong pitching performance in Game 2, taking a 3-0 win.
"Give Richmond Hill credit -- we knew they were a good team and a good hitting team," Northside coach David Smart said. "Drew Haywood did a great job of keeping them down, but we knew they would make a run. We felt good about it and then to have it end like it did was disappointing."
Haywood and Richmond Hill's Slade Walker engaged in a fierce pitchers' duel in the opener. The two right-handers were in control, with Walker keeping Northside off the board for five innings, while Haywood blanked the hosts until the final frame.
The Patriots finally broke the scoring ice in the sixth as Haywood helped himself with a clutch, two-out RBI single. The hit scored Jacob Hinson, who led off the inning with a single, moved to second on a sacrifice and then to third on a groundout. Haywood lined a Walker offering into left-center for a 1-0 lead.
Never miss a local story.
Northside added a run in the top of the seventh as Zack Williams led off with an opposite-field double. He moved to third on a wild pitch and trotted home on a sacrifice fly by Gage Brown to give the Patriots a 2-0 advantage. Northside managed to load the bases but could not push across another run.
Haywood surrendered back-to-back singles to start the home half of the seventh. An errant throw on a sacrifice bunt loaded the bases with no outs. After a lineout to short, Justin Henle drove in two runs with a base hit, tying the game. Zach Byrd then got another base hit to left, but Brown fired to the plate to cut down Dominic Mentalto for the second out.
The game-winning run came home on a balk by Haywood on an obscure ruling.
The "gorilla swing" whereby the pitcher swings his pitching arm back and forth after stepping onto the rubber was called, allowing Henle to score.
In the nightcap, Wildcat hurler Brian Eichhorn held the Patriots at bay for the entire contest. Eichhorn allowed a second-inning infield single to Haywood and then did not allow another hit until Michael Rossi's seventh-inning single with one out.