It took two consecutive runs that scored off dropped third strikes, a bench-clearing fracas after a collision at the plate and a final strikeout with the game-tying run 90 feet away, but the Northwood Chargers are on pace for its first conference championship since 2013.
Northwood (12-2, 6-0) held off Cedar Ridge 10-9 on Friday night at Chapel Hill High School to complete a sweep of a doubleheader. The Chargers captured the opener 9-2.
Northwood goes into Easter break on an 11-game winning streak and first place in the Big 8 Conference.
Trailing 10-5 going into the sixth (the game was scheduled for six innings because it was a doubleheader), Cedar Ridge (6-5, 2-4) scored four runs. With the bases loaded, Erik Zehnder knocked in Jake DeFranco on a RBI groundout to narrow the deficit to 10-9. With Brandon Andrews at third and two out, Northwood reliever Trent Bagwell notched a strikeout on three pitches, earning the save and slamming his glove to the ground in jubilation.
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Northwood scored five runs in the top of the third, triggered by a single from Trey Romel, who finished 2-for-3 with a triple and three runs scored. Pitcher Patrick Szczypinski, who earned the win, rocked a two-run, bases loaded single to left. Shortstop Logan Crabtree also had a two-run single later in the inning, scoring Szczypinski and Dylan Mazurek. Colton Lineman scored the frame’s final run off a wild pitch.
The Red Wolves came back with four runs in the bottom of the third. First baseman Evan Hall jolted a single to right center, bringing in Nick Cellini (running for catcher Josh Cecil) and Brandon Andrews.
In the fifth, Northwood scored three more runs to extended its lead to 10-5, though it could have easily been less. Centerfielder Max Hundley and catcher Matt Oldham both scored on dropped third strikes with two out.