After a year in which nothing seemed to go Northern Nash’s way, the Knights have found some good fortune in the early part of their schedule.
Northern Nash and Southern Nash were even or close in just about every category of Friday’s game at Northern Nash with the exception of one thing: The score.
The Knights made due with one inning, defeating the Firebirds, 2-0, for their seventh consecutive victory.
“Last year, it seemed like we didn’t have any luck,” Northern Nash center fielder Jacob Green said. “For a team of juniors and sophomores to be on a winning streak like this makes you wonder what we can do next year, but we think we can win the conference this year. We just have to keep taking it on a game-by-game basis.”
Northern Nash (8-2, 2-0 Big East Conference) is atop the conference after the first week of league play.
The Knights don’t have a lineup full of power hitters, yet they have been able to win games with big innings, pitching and defense.
It was the same formula again Friday.
The Knights and Firebirds both finished with five hits in the game, which was moved up three hours because of impending rain, but Northern Nash bunched three of its hits together in the third inning. Green scored off a wild pitch, then Hunter Moore plated Chad Nelms with a single later in the inning.
It was all the scoring that would take place.
“We’ve gotten timely hits this whole year, and they can come from anywhere, not just one guy,” Northern Nash coach Leonard Allen said. “If the top half doesn’t get it done, the bottom half does, or vice versa.”
Starting pitcher Derrick Carter struck out 10 hitters for Northern Nash.
For the second straight game – and for the better part of this year – Southern Nash (1-6, 0-2) came close but couldn’t find a play to change the game.
The Firebirds trailed Wilson Fike by one run in the seventh inning of their Big East opener earlier this week, and a ball that looked like the game-winning home run died at the warning track.
Green robbed what looked like a sure single in the sixth Friday, then two hits were wasted in the seventh when a runner was picked off and another was stranded at second.
“If you had picked in preseason, you probably would have picked us last, but we’re this close to being 2-0,” said Southern Nash coach Jeff Flowers, holding his thumb and index finger close together. “We’re going to dodge this hump eventually.”
With the Big East perhaps even closer than the coaches initially believed, both Flowers and Allen said most games will turn out like Friday’s.
Flowers said Southern Nash is by no means out of picture.
“7-3 definitely can win this league,” Flowers said. “If you can throw strikes and play defense, you have a shot every single night.”
The Knights, while still a ways from the end, aren’t taking any league victory lightly, Allen said.
“Any win is big in this conference, whether it’s against the top or the bottom,” Allen said. “You have to start counting your wins early.”
Northern Nash 2
Southern Nash 0
SN 000 000 0 – 0 5 2
NN 002 000 x – 2 5 0
WP: Derrick Carter (7IP, 0R, 0ER, 5H, 10K).
Nick Piotrowicz can be reached at 407-9952 or firstname.lastname@example.org