The double play can be a pitcher's best friend, but there is an easy way and a tough way to do it.
Old Mill senior right-hander Tim McGurk chose the hard way on a bitterly cold day in the fifth inning at North County and it helped result in three runs as the No. 3 Knights took a 6-4 victory.
Tweety Barton (2-0) pitched his second four-hitter with nine strikeouts and the Knights' fourth straight complete game as the hosts took sole possession of first place in the Anne Arundel County 4A League at 4-0.
No. 8 Old Mill (3-1) took a 3-0 lead through two innings on just one hit, an RBI double by catcher Shane Thompson, and a sacrifice fly by Joe Barnes in the second inning. Barnes had walked and scored on a wild pitch in the first inning.
North County tied it in the bottom of the third with two unearned runs and one earned on Barton's grounder and went ahead to stay in the fifth with two more unearned runs.
McGurk hit Mike Wooden with a pitch to start the inning and Steve Tomshack followed with a single to left, Wooden stopping at second, which set the stage for the key play of the game.
Barton rapped one back to McGurk, and rather than going second to first, McGurk threw to third for a force. C.J. Jones then got his second hit, a grounder in the hole at short on which Brian Bogle didn't have a play.
With the bases loaded, Earl Sewell flew to right, scoring Tomshack. Barton and Jones came home on back-to-back errors, one fielding and one throwing, by third baseman Adam Tetlow to make it 6-3 North County.
The double play the easy way around the horn and Old Mill might have escaped with only one run given up, but the Patriots didn't quit.
Barton walked Tony Gentile and Thompson (2-for-2) on 3-2 counts.
Barnes, the Pats' center fielder who grabbed a liner off the bat of Joe Hizon in the second and threw out Jones at home for a double play, went down looking on a tailing fast ball on the outside corner and McGurk popped to Barton.
Chuck Manns kept the Patriots alive with a single to left that scored pinch runner (for Gentile) John Kelly, but Barton coaxed Bogle into flying to right to end the game.
"We didn't play well defensively [three errors, two in the second inning when Old Mill scored two unearned runs] but it didn't bother Tweety," said North County Don Usewick. "He handled it well and hung tough despite a lack of support at times."
North County has defeated No.10 Severna Park, No. 4 Arundel, No. 12 Glen Burnie and No. 8 Old Mill.
* Meade 8, Severna Park 7: Matt Nein's single in the bottom of the seventh scored Brad Nein with the winning run as Meade (1-3) surprised visiting and No. 10 Severna Park (2-2). Matt Nein finished with three RBIs for the Mustangs, who lost to No. 8 Old Mill, 36-0, Monday.