Northwood returns to the state semis
Northwood slugger Andrew Webster launched a grand slam to put his Chargers up 6-2 in the second inning of Wednesday night's NCHSAA 2A state quarterfinal game against visiting Carrboro, and the slam was just part of his big night.
Webster, a senior catcher and one of 11 Charger seniors, earned a return trip to the state semifinals with a 9-3 win over Carolina 12 rival Carrboro. Webster drove in seven of the Charger runs in a 4-for-4 night at the plate.
Northwood (23-5) will be the better seed and host two of three games, if necessary, against North Brunswick (16-10) in the 2A semifinal series. Northwood will host game one Friday at 7 p.m.
The Chargers rolled to a 19-0 win in March and a 12-0 win in April in their Carolina 12 contests with Carrboro. The win-or-go-home state game started a little nervous for the Chargers.
Carrboro leadoff man Jeff Strongoli singled into center to start the game and Northwood starter Clark Streets walked the next Jaguar, Spencer Brown. Two errors by the Charger infield followed allowing Carrboro to take a 2-0 lead.
The Chargers got the two runs right back. Second-place hitter Jordan Riggsbee legged out a grounder to short and Webster doubled on a misplayed fly to right-center field setting up a threat in the Northwood first.
Justin King dropped a single into short right field scoring Riggsbee and Trevor Hackney's grounder to third was good for an RBI.
Streets and the Charger defense settled down after the first frame. Streets wound up with a five-hitter, allowing no extra-base hits. There were no more Charger errors after the first.
The Chargers had a comfortable lead to work with thanks to one swing of the bat in the second. A walk and a hit batter helped the Chargers load the bases with one out.
Webster, after his fly to medium-deep right-center in the first, drove the first pitch he saw carrying over the 345-foot sign in the gap for a sudden 6-2 Charger lead.
The Chargers kept putting runners on board for their hot bat and Webster kept coming through. In the fourth, leadoff hitter Adam Lowe singled to start the inning, then raced around to third on a wild pickoff try. Webster singled Lowe in for a 7-2 Northwood lead.
In the fifth, three walks packed the sacks and with two down Webster singled into right scoring Dylan Stasko and Steven Strong for a 9-3 lead.
The Jaguars (13-12) were the No. 3 seed from the Carolina 12 and, with only two seniors on their roster compared to Northwood's experienced squad, had pulled off two road upsets to reach the round of eight.
Northwood repeats as the sectional champion, to go alongside three Carolina 12 titles in the last four springs. Whiteville topped the Chargers in the state semifinals last year.
The Chargers have won eight straight games and 12 of their last 13 leading into Friday night's game one against North Brunswick. The Chargers will travel to Leland for game two Saturday at 7 p.m. Game three, if necessary, will be back in Pittsboro on Monday.