North Johnston right-hander Dylan Radford had his curveball working Wednesday night. And that made it awfully tough on Smithfield-Selma’s batters.
Radford, a junior with a fastball that tops out at about 85 miles per hour, used his curveball to keep the Spartans hitters off balance in an 8-1 victory. He worked six strong innings, giving up four hits and one run, walking two and striking out 10.
“I was just trying to keep the curveball down with two strikes and make sure they couldn’t hit it,” Radford said. “I usually try to let my defense work behind me and keep my pitch count low. The strikeouts just happened tonight. That’s the best I’ve thrown the curveball this season.”
Radford improved to 2-0 on the young season while North Johnston ran its record to 4-0.
“What (Radford) did tonight was even in fastball counts he used that curveball,” North Johnston coach Brian Ford said. “He knew his ‘get it over curveball’ and his ‘strikeout curveball’ and he was phenomenal.”
Smithfield-Selma coach Michael Sliger, whose Spartans dropped to 1-3, was also impressed with the North Johnston starter.
“He was someone to reckon with,” Sliger said. “Mid-80s and that curveball. We just couldn’t make the adjustments on him. He’s what you call a bulldog.”
North Johnston took advantage of two errors by the Spartans in the second to score a pair of runs on RBI singles by Logan Hayes and Cameron Evans. The Panthers added two more runs in the third and four in the seventh.
That was more than enough runs for Radford and reliever Steven Worley, who struck out the side in the bottom of the seventh.
They said it
“We’re really starting to come together,” Ford said. “We’re starting to put all four phases of the game together. We’ve played some very tough schools. I front-loaded our schedule for a reason because I knew we were going to have something special with this group. I really wanted to see what they were made of out of the gate and they have responded very well for me.”
Smithfield-Selma opened the top of the second with a pair of errors on the first two North Johnston batters. After getting an unusual double play on an infield play in which the ball was not caught, it appeared that the Spartans might get out of the jam. But North Johnston rapped three straight singles to score a pair of runs.
Three to know
North Johnston’s Dylan Radford: After giving up back-to-back singles to start the sixth inning, he struck out the next three Spartans to push his strikeout total to 10.
North Johnston’s Steven Worley: The North Johnston first baseman and relief pitcher had two hits, scored two runs and drove in a pair of runs. He also pitched a perfect seventh inning, striking out the side to give North Johnston pitchers 13 K’s on the night.
Smithfield-Selma’s Cullen Kerigan: Had two of the Spartans’ four hits and also stole a pair of bases.