If North County coach Don Usewick had any doubts about his team's abilities, the first inning of yesterday's season opener against Severna Park did little to quell them.
The host Knights committed two costly errors and fell behind, 3-0, before even getting a chance to bat.
It's what they did during the remainder of the game, however, that showed why they are considered one of the area's premier teams.
The fourth-ranked Knights answered with three runs in their half of the first, then rode the arm of senior pitcher Mike Wooden to a 4-3 win over the No. 10 Falcons in an Anne Arundel County 4A League game.
"I think that's really important," said Usewick of his team's ability to strike back quickly after a sloppy start. "You always have some doubts in the first game, especially when you fall behind that quickly. I thought we showed a lot coming back."
Wooden then made sure they didn't give up any more ground, going the distance in 130 pitches, allowing two singles while striking out 10.
The right-hander, who has signed to play at Maryland next year, used a fastball clocked in the low 80s to compensate for control problems with his curve and change-up.
He said his team's swift comeback put him more at ease.
"You come out of the first and you have a weight on your shoulders," said Wooden, who didn't allow an earned run. "We came back and showed a lot of character. It's just a relief."
He helped his own cause with an RBI triple into the gap in right-center to start North County's first-inning rally. Steve Tomshack followed with a double to right to score Wooden, making it 3-2, and came home on a wild pitch during the next at-bat to tie the game.
Severna Park starter Bill Erskine, however, then began to settle down, getting a better handle on his control and allowing one hit over the next three innings.
But in the fifth, the Knights got all the offense they needed.
Tomshack led off with an infield single, took second on a ground out and went to third on a passed ball. C. J. Jones then grounded out to second, scoring Tomshack with the eventual winning run.
Severna Park coach Jim Pitt gave much of the credit to Wooden.
"When he needed the strikeout, he was able to reach back and get a little something extra on the fastball," said Pitt. "He's a good pitcher, and every time he takes the mound, North County has an excellent chance of winning."