The battle for the Anne Arundel County baseball championship will likely come down to the final week of the regular season. On Wednesday, 10th-ranked North County made sure that it stayed in the thick of the race with a 5-1 victory over No. 6 Broadneck.
The host Knights, who ran their winning streak to three games, got a complete-game performance from senior pitcher Gregg Hauck and timely hitting to beat the visiting Bruins. In just his second start of the season, Hauck scattered four hits and struck out seven. North County (11-3, 8-3) also got two hits each from senior first baseman Aaron Pilkerton and senior second baseman Jake Turpin.
"We're playing well right now," said North County coach Wayne Feuerherd, whose team posted a 1-0, nine-inning victory over fourth-ranked South River on Monday. "We have three good arms, and our lineup one through nine is putting the ball in play."
The Bruins (9-5, 7-4) scored their only run in their first at-bat. Leadoff hitter Connor Joyce reached on an error, and eventually scored on a sacrifice fly by catcher Brian Parreira.
The lead didn't last long, as North County rebounded with three first-inning runs. A Hauck leadoff walk was followed by junior shortstop Jesse Lee's single. After a double play, Hauck scored the Knights' first run on Pilkerton's infield single. Senior designated hitter Koby Overstreet's double plated Pilkerton, and a line single by Turpin concluded the three-run burst.
Two innings later, North County boosted its lead to 4-1. The Knights loaded the bases on a Pilkerton double, an Overstreet walk, and a hit batsman. An RBI groundout by senior catcher Tim Poteet scored Pilkerton. North County added another run in the sixth, when Turpin doubled and came home on junior centerfielder Matt Semanick's single.
After his challenging start, Hauck allowed only three Broadneck runners to advance past first base in the final six innings.
"I knew that if I threw strikes, my teammates would make the plays behind me," said the left-hander, who pitched a five-inning no-hitter against Southern in his only other start. "I don't think I had my best stuff today, but I was hitting my spots."
Broadneck's Mike Thomas also shook off a rough first inning. The junior right-hander struck out three, and surrendered just three hits in the final six innings.
Broadneck coach Jeff Herrick believes that the race for the county title, which includes the Bruins, North County, South River, Old Mill, Arundel, and Severna Park, could be decided by pitching and defense.
"It's going to boil down to who finishes strong at the end of the year," Herrick said. "A lot of these teams are playing comparably, and it's a matter of who executes. They outperformed us today, and were the better team."
Broadneck1 0 0 0 0 0 01 4 1
North County3 0 1 0 0 1 x 5 7 1
B – Mike Thomas and Brian Parreira; NC – Gregg Hauck and Tim Poteet
2B: B – Hansen; NC-Overstreet, Pilkerton, J. Turpin