Northern Nash is a mostly young team that usually relies on a few scraped-together runs to win games.
It was hard to tell in the Knights’ playoffs opener.
Northern Nash’s offense threatened all night against South Brunswick, which overshadowed an unusual defensive performance in a 13-6 victory Tuesday at Northern Nash High School.
Northern Nash advanced to the NCHSAA 3-A second round for the first time since 2009.
“We had some goals and standards, and one of them was to win the conference championship and make it to the playoffs and see what we could do there,” Northern Nash first baseman and pitcher Tyler Barrett said. “This is a huge step for us.”
The Big East Conference regular season champion Knights (15-9) had 23 plate appearances with runners in scoring position, and their offensive impact was immediate.
Jacob Green and Chad Nelms were hit by pitches, and Barrett singled in the first inning.
Then, Hunter Moore plated Green with an RBI grounder that cleared the bases with the help of a South Brunswick (2-21) throwing error.
Dwight Daniels tripled on the next pitch to give Northern Nash a 4-0 lead.
The Knights led by at least four runs the rest of the night.
“We’ve been trying to stress to the guys to put the ball in play and make teams make plays against us,” Northern Nash coach Leonard Allen said. “We did a good job of that (Tuesday). They made a couple blunders, a couple mistakes, but our kids did what we asked them to do.”
Derrick Carter was bothered by a headache but managed to give the Knights three innings of work and earn the win.
Barrett allowed two hits and a run across the final three innings to see Northern Nash into the second round.
Barrett went 2-for-4 with three runs scored, while Daniels went 1-for-2 with an RBI, two walks and a run scored. Hunter Moore scored three times, and Nelms and Alex Cooke both scored twice.
Northern Nash chased South Brunswick starter Josh Larson after 10 batters and four runs. The Knights hit relievers Mitch Harris and Gabe Jones for six and three runs, respectively.
“The pitching to me seemed flat. It didn’t have a lot of movement on it,” Daniels said. “It was easy to pick up out of the hand, so I think everybody came out and jumped on it.”
Northern Nash made five errors, and Allen said his team will have to be sharper in Round 2.
The Knights will play Southern Lee in the second round, which beat West Craven Tuesday.
Northern Nash is happy to have the chance, Allen said.
“Being that we’re very young, a lot of the kids never experienced getting a win in the first round, so that’s big for this program,” Allen said. “But we have a lot of things to turn around for Friday.”
Nick Piotrowicz can be reached at 407-9952 or firstname.lastname@example.org