North Carroll pitcher Nate Miller admittedly had little working for him on the mound in yesterday's playoff opener against Liberty. Luckily, he had plenty working for him in the infield.
The visiting Panthers turned a season-high four double-plays and made a seven-run second inning hold up in an 8-3 win over the Carroll County and co-Central Maryland Conference champions in the first round of the Class 3A West Region playoffs.
The victory avenged three previous losses to Liberty (16-3), and advanced North Carroll (9-11) into Monday's quarterfinal, where the Panthers will play host to Montgomery County's Walter Johnson, owner of a first-round bye.
A year after getting bumped out of the tournament in the opening round by eventual state champion South Carroll, the win was sweet."We had them beat every time we played them, so we knew we could beat them," said shortstop Mark Campbell, who was involved in all four double plays and went 2-for-3 at the plate. "We came out on the field today and knew we were going to win this game. The pressure was all on them."
While not overpowering, Miller (6-1) got the job done, going the distance and scattering 10 hits, nine of them singles.
Miller got out of a bases-loaded jam in the second, when he got Liberty's Jesse Stank to ground into a double play. The Lions had two on in the fourth before Matt Cavey grounded into a double play.
The Panthers turned a 1-6-3 double play in the sixth and closed out the game when Campbell fielded Alex Moore's one-out grounder and started another double play."Four double plays - you can't ask for anything more," said Miller.
Offensively, North Carroll got all the runs it would need by sending 10 men to the plate in a seven-run second. The barrage included a solo home run by Andy Lindner and a triple by Rusty Lamotte.