PITTSBORO — When Rick Parks’ Northwood team found itself in the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 2A Eastern regional finals last season, he said his team looked like it was just happy to be there. The Chargers ended up dropping that series in two games to Whiteville.
“Last year, I don’t know if we got to a point in either game where we looked like we belonged,” Parks said.
This season, with a mature, tightly-knit crop of 11 seniors, Northwood played like a team that belonged not only in the regional final but also in the state championship. The Chargers took the first game in their best-of-3 series against North Brunswick on Friday night with a 6-3 win in front of a standing-room-only home crowd.
Senior Robert Straughn went the distance for Northwood, striking out eight to improve his record to an impressive 13-0.
He struggled early, though. Straughn allowed a home run from the Scorpions’ Kevon Perkins in the second inning to give North Brunswick a 1-0 lead.
In the second inning, the Chargers’ Dylan Stasko and Chase Golden got on base with singles, and Jordan Rigsbee doubled to score Stasko. Andrew Webster belted a single down the third-base line to bring home Rigsbee and Golden and stake Northwood to a 3-1 lead.
But the Scorpions tied the game in the third thanks to a two-run double by Perkins off Straughn.
“In the second and third inning, he was struggling,” Parks said of his senior ace. “His stuff wasn’t on and I didn’t know if he was going to make it through the whole game. But he did, he mustered up, and he got us where we want to be.”
Straughn shut down the Scorpions thereafter, facing only 17 batters in the next four innings.
Northwood put the game away with a three-run fifth, which began with another single from Webster. Ross Cooper and Trevor Hackney singled to score Webster, and Stasko walked to load the bases.
Junior Randy Clark, who threw 4 1/3 innings for North Brunswick, began to tire. North Brunswick coach Dustin Medlin brought in Jason Shumate to relieve him, but he walked the first batter he faced, bringing in Northwood’s fifth run. The onslaught ended with a Chase Golden sacrifice bunt and an Adam Lowe pop fly to right field.
The series’ second game is scheduled for Saturday night in Leland.