High Point Central upends Northwest, 4-1
Playoff experience is overrated.
Or at least it is if you ask the High Point Central baseball team.
The Bison escaped several jams on the road to defeat Northwest Guilford 4-1 Tuesday night in the second round of the NCHSAA 4A playoffs.
High Point Central (18-8) beat Southern Alamance in extra innings Friday to move to the second round for the first time since 1971. But on Tuesday, the Bison looked like a team that had been through many playoff battles.
“It just feels great,” Bison head coach Ken Morgan said. “We had a scare last week. All good teams are going to go through that scare at some point in the playoffs. But it gave us a lot of confidence to come in here tonight. We kept fighting and fighting and fighting. I can’t express how proud I am of them.”
Bison starter Josh Wilson got in and out of trouble, stranding five Northwest (20-8) runners on the base paths in the first two innings. The Vikings left 11 runners on for the game.
Wilson pitched four innings. He allowed one run on six hits with three strikeouts.
Northwest pushed a run across in the second when Wilson hit a man with the bases loaded. But he escaped major damage by inducing an infield popup from the next batter.
“Whenever I gave up a hit or got in trouble I just focused on the next batter,” Wilson said. “This is the first time we’ve made it (to the playoffs) in years and it feels great.”
The Bison took the lead in the third. Will Johnson delivered an RBI single and Hansen Butler’s sacrifice fly scored another run.
But the crushing blow came in the top of the fifth. With two outs, Johnson drew a walk. Then junior Zach McLean stepped to the plate and drilled a line drive over the fence in left-center to give the Bison a three-run cushion.
“I knew their pitcher had been a little wild, so after he threw me a ball on the first pitch I was hoping to get something good,” McLean said.
Butler, a junior right-hander, pitched the final three innings and struck out six Vikings.
A Northwest hitter reached on an error with one out in the Vikings’ last at-bat. Butler surrendered a single to bring the potential tying run to the plate, but the UNC commit struck out the last two batters to send the Bison onto the third round.
“We came out and gave it our all,” Wilson said. “It just feels great.”