Scorpions snap Northwood's state run
As game three of a state semifinal/East Region final baseball series played out at Northwood Monday night, it was increasingly clear Northwood's best shot at advancing to the state championship was back in game two a couple of nights earlier.
North Brunswick (18-11), after entering the NCHSAA 2A State Tournament with a 12-10 record, will play for the state title Friday and Saturday thanks to a 10-5 win at Northwood (24-7) in the winner-take-all game.
The Scorpions wouldn't have gotten to Monday's game though without rallying from a 5-0 deficit in the sixth inning, for a 6-5 walk-off victory, on their home field in game two.
A seven-run Scorpion second, which included a homer, three doubles and a few more line-drive base hits as the Chargers tried three pitchers to stem the tide in the inning, gave North Brunswick an 8-3 lead and the lead for good at a packed park at Northwood.
A crowd with energy rivaling that of a big Friday night football contest was raucous for both sides, even once the home side fell behind. The Scorpion batting order provided lots of its own noise, mainly thanks to two home runs by Davon Perkins and a homer by Kevon Perkins, the Scorpion starting pitcher as well.
Kevon Perkins drove a high fly over the left field fence for a 1-0 Scorpion lead in the first.
The Chargers answered with the long ball. After leadoff hitter Adam Lowe singled and Justin King worked a two-out walk, Ross Cooper blasted a three-run homer to left.
The 3-1 Northwood lead lasted two batters into the Scorpion second. Davon Perkins, in the eighth spot of the North Brunswick lineup, hit a two-run homer and it was just the start of the huge Scorpion outburst.
Charger starting pitcher Robert Straughn was driven from the game two batters after the tying homer. Clark Streets managed to get only one out before being replaced by Steven Strong. Strong ended the second but was relieved in the Scorpion third by Jordan Riggsbee.
Riggsbee escaped a two-on, no-out jam in the third, keeping the Scorpion lead at 8-3, and the Chargers chipped away at the lead in their half of the third.
King and Cooper singled and Trevor Hackney drew a walk, all coming with two down, to load the bases. Dylan Stasko shot a grounder between third and short bringing King and Cooper in.
Riggsbee held the Scorpions for the next three innings, keeping his side within striking distance.
For the Scorpions, Jacob Shumate, who relieved Kevon Perkins in the Charger third, didn't give Northwood a chance.
Shumate pitched 4.1 innings of no-hit ball, allowing only a hit batter in the fourth and a walk in the seventh, while striking out five.
For a little extra noise from the stands by the Scorpion dugout, North Brunswick tacked on two runs in the seventh, including Davon Perkins' second homer.
Kevon Perkins went 3-for-4 with two runs and four RBI. Jared Strange, the Scorpion leadoff hitter, had two singles and a walk in five plate appearances. The Scorpions tallied 14 hits.
North Brunswick, going for its first state title since it was a 1A program in 1996, will face Piedmont in the best-of-three final series in Zebulon.
Riggsbee pitched 4.0 innings, allowing two hits and two runs and getting three strikeouts. King and Cooper scored two runs each for the Chargers.
The Chargers, having won back-to-back Carolina 12 championships, fell in the regional finals for the second straight season. Northwood had 11 seniors on its roster: Chase Golden, Lowe, Straughn, Strong, Riggsbee, Cooper, King, Stasko, Streets, Andrew Webster and Jon McKee.