PITTSBORO — For the second year in a row Northwood made it all the way to the Eastern finals of the state 2A baseball playoffs.
But just like last year the Chargers’ season ended just short of an appearance in the state championship series.
Monday night North Brunswick (17-11), which lost the series opener, completed its comeback in the series with a 10-5 win, leaving a very disappointed senior-dominated Northwood team huddling with coach Rick Parks.
“Worst huddle in my seven years here, very emotional,” Parks said. “In the second inning we just couldn’t find it. Any button I pushed was the wrong button.’
First baseman Ross Cooper gave the Chargers a boost early. He hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the first to put his team up 3-1. And his team had senior ace Robert Straughn on the mound.
But Straughn had pitched Friday’s 6-3 win and wasn’t the same with just two days rest.
“I asked a lot of Robert Straughn,” Parks said. “But he started because he was 17-0 as a starter in his career at Northwood and 18-0 overall. And when Cooper hit the homer, we thought, ‘here we go.’ ”
But the Scorpions got a two-run homer from eighth hitter Davon Perkins in the second and went on to score seven runs to jump ahead 8-3. Parks had to pull Straughn off the mound and used two more pitchers before the inning was over.
“Their bats were hot,” Parks said. “They were hitting our fastballs, and we did better when we kept them off balance. Maybe I should have brought in Jordan Riggsbee earlier.”
Northwood (24-7) got back to within 8-5, with a two-out rally in the third. Shortstop Dylon Stasko singled in Justin King and Cooper, who had both singled. After Stasko’s single, North coach Dustin Medlin pulled his starter, Kevon Perkins.
Medlin then called on senior reliever Jacob Shumate (4-2), who pitched 4 1/3 innings. He gave up no hits, allowed just two base runners, and struck out six batters.
“We were hoping to get three innings from Kevon, then go to Jacob and piece it together after that,” Medlin said. “Kevin has come in all of our playoff games and gotten three or four wins. He pitched some Saturday, but did the job again tonight.”
In the top of the seventh, Davon Perkins hit his second homer and the Scorpions manufactured another run for the final margin.
North Brunswick will play Monroe Piedmont in a best-of-three series Friday and Saturday at either Five County Stadium in Zebulon or at the Grasshoppers ballpark in Greensboro.
“It’s tough,” Parks said of the loss. “We’ve played about as well as we could in the playoffs. And to reach the regional finals two years in a row is really something. But it’s tough to lose for our 11 seniors.”