Experience usually counts for something in high school baseball.
It’s a fact that’s proven easily by Nash Central’s standing in the Big East Conference compared to its large number of seniors.
But every once in a while, youth can show its hand.
Seven seniors walked out on to the field at Nash Central High School on Tuesday night, spotlighted by their four-year accomplishments, but it was three freshmen in opposing colors that shined the brightest.
In a game bereft of offense, it seemed that both teams would have enough.
Northern Nash just had more. Behind a near no-hitter and two runs in the seventh, Northern Nash pulled off the upset of Nash Central, 2-1, as the Knights’ freshmen ruined the Bulldogs’ senior night.
“All our freshmen, they are only going to get better,” Northern Nash coach Eddie Loesner said.
Loesner has only pulled a pitcher off the mound twice in his coaching career with a no-hitter intact. The first was when he was in the Cape League, where pitch counts are strict. The second was Tuesday night, when it was unknown.
Freshman Jacob Green, who never thought he’d be starting conference games before this season, carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning before being pulled.
“I did pretty good,” said Green, who didn’t know he was pulled with a no-hitter. “I did better than I thought I was going to do. I walked a lot of guys, but I thought I did decent.”
A little better than decent. Three batters after Green came out of the game, Nash Central shortstop Khalil Macklin scored on a single by Colton Vaughn – the only run and hit of the game for Nash Central. But the way senior Dillon Moore was pitching, it seemed like that was all the Bulldogs (9-11, 6-3 Big East) would need.
“I did think one run would be enough,” Nash Central interim coach Buck Edmondson said.
Edmondson and Moore spoke before the seventh inning with the understanding that a few base runners would force Edmondson to make a switch.
Moore was facing the bottom of the Knights’ lineup – three wide-eyed freshmen.
At least they used to be wide-eyed.
Left fielder Nick Vester drew a walk and Green sacrificed him to second. Phillip Krauss drew another walk before the top of the order came up for Northern Nash (8-10, 4-5). Luke Joyner walked, and DiMaggio Silver singled to score Vester. Krauss scored on a wild pitch and an error to give Northern Nash the lead.
“We are freshman and it’s our first year, but we had heart,” Vester said. “... I knew we could hit the ball. We can hit the ball as a team, but our freshmen can hit the ball.”
Nash Central went down in order in the seventh but had missed plenty of opportunities earlier in the game. Christian Perry left third base early on a sacrifice fly in the third, and Moore was caught off third base on a grounder in the sixth with one out.
“I thought we were pressing a little bit, trying too hard, with it being senior night,” Edmondson said. “... I wish they would have come out here a little more relaxed.”
With the loss, Nash Central can no longer win the conference outright, but the Bulldogs will visit Wilson Hunt on Thursday with a chance to share the title. On the other hand, Northern Nash is still alive. The Knights were in fourth place before Tuesday night and are trying to not only catch Rocky Mount High, which was one game ahead of the Knights on Tuesday, but also hold off Southern Nash.
“We are kind of playing for our postseason life,” Loesner said. “I think the seniors are getting a sense of how precious every at-bat is. ... They are really taking advantage of every pitch.”
Northern Nash 2
Nash Central 1
NN 000 000 002 – 2 5 1
NC 000 000 010 – 1 1 1
WP: Stephen Williams (1.2IP, 1R, 1ER, 1H, 1BB, 1K); LP: Dillon Moore (6.1IP, 2R, 1ER, 4H, 4BB, 10K).
2B: Jacob Green (NN).
Justin Hite can be reached at 407-9951 or email@example.com