APEX — Tyler Wood pitched a one-hit shutout and blasted a two-run homer to lead Middle Creek over visiting Sanderson 4-0 on Friday night in the third round N.C. High School Athletic Association 4-A baseball playoffs.
Wood used his slider to keep the Spartans (15-10) off-balance, allowing only a two-out single by Max Gagnon.
"He only threw 66 pitches. He hit his spots and stuck to the scouting report. It's all you can ask a pitcher to do," Middle Creek coach Jeremy Thompson said.
The senior right-hander caused 12 groundouts and struck out six. The ground balls Thompson induced were dispatched by a sure-handed defense that stole several hits from the Spartans.
Shortstop Ryne Cole made a diving catch on a popup over the third-base line, and Michael Caddell's backhand stab and throw at third base saved a two-base hit.
"You feel you can do anything you want," Wood said about having his defense behind him.
The Mustangs (23-4) jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning on run-scoring singles by Jason Bombardier and Wood in the five-hit inning.
Wood said the early lead helped take pressure off the Mustangs.
"You feel like we're in control of the game at that point," he said.
Wood's counterpart, Alex Davis, was able to regain his form after the shaky first inning. Davis struck out 12 in his six innings of work and kept the Spartans in the game until the fifth inning. With two outs and Quincy Latimore on third, Wood sent Davis' 0-1 offering over the left-center-field wall for a two-run home run.
"I was looking fastball but he threw a slider. I was a little out in front, but able to keep my hands back," Wood said.
Middle Creek advances to the Eastern semifinals and will play Leesville Road at 7 p.m. Tuesday.