The Corinth Holders baseball team didn’t need to tear the cover off the ball to win in its first two battles in the NCHSAA 3A playoffs. The same theory held true in the third round.
The Pirates used a bases-loaded double from Logan Whitley to spring ahead in the sixth and got pitcher Tyler Brown’s second complete-game win of the postseason to pilot a 3-1 win at Northern Guilford Wednesday night.
Corinth, who blanked Northern Nash 1-0 and Wilson’s Fike High 2-0 to reach the third round, again used a platform of sound pitching and defense. Some slick fielding netted a pair of double plays to extinguish jams in the first and second innings and secure a victory in which hits were hard to come by.
“That’s our style,” said Corinth coach Adam Weaver. “We’ve done that all year.”
Corinth Holders (18-7) has allowed just one run in 21 innings of postseason play. It’s uncharted territory for the 19th-seeded Pirates, who furthered the deepest playoff run in the school’s young history despite collecting just four hits.
“Every pitch was working tonight,” Brown said. “The defense was also helping me out big time.”
Brown, a 6-foot-3 lefty headed to Mars Hill College next year, only needed 66 pitches, 48 of which were strikes, to get by Northern. There was only one strikeout, but an errorless display behind Brown meant he didn’t have to miss bats. Northern did manage six hits, but just two went for extra bases. Brown also didn’t walk anyone and picked off a pair of Northern baserunners at first base.
“Tyler pounded the zone with more than one pitch,” Weaver said. “He kept them off balance all night and didn’t let them square balls up.”
Northern pitcher John Clark Ouzts was equally good, starting the game and striking out 10 while allowing just three hits. Ouzts was replaced in the sixth by Josh Pike, who claimed a strikeout to start the inning before encountering control problems. Eli Dalton and Mason Cooper drew consecutive walks and Dalton headed to second base on a wild pitch. Tate Proctor, who reached base on all three plate appearances, was intentionally walked with two outs to load the bases.
That brought up Whitley, who worked the count to 3-1 before swatting one into no man’s land left of center field. It was the only extra-base hit the Pirates managed.
“I got under it a little bit and I’m thankful it found a hole,” said Whitley. “The pitch was about chest-high and I was trying to hit it over the middle.”
The Nighthawks (19-8) had runners reach in both of the final two innings, but Brown retired five of the last six batters he faced. Brown also went the full seven innings in the postseason opener against Northern Nash before Kody Cyr shut down Fike last Saturday.
“My hat goes off to our pitchers for turning it on in the playoffs against real good teams,” Weaver said.
Will Jones drove in the first run of the game for Corinth on a single through the right side that scored Proctor in the second. One inning later, Northern leadoff man J.T. Jarrett tied the game on a infield hit that scored Ouzts from third.
The Pirates travel to No. 2 West Brunswick in the regional semifinal.