Northwood head baseball coach Darien Dukes had no problem pointing out his team’s biggest culprit in its first home playoff game since 2005.
It wasn’t nerves, although Dukes said that likely played a part as well.
Instead, Dukes pointed to the 15 “free” baserunners his pitchers gave the visiting Titans in Lakeshore’s 10-0 Class 4A first-round playoff victory at Dr. James Farrar Field.
“You can’t overcome that,” Dukes said. “Every inning, you’re behind in the count, and you have to come with something down the middle. They hit it, and we didn’t.”
While five Northwood pitchers struggled to find the strike zone, Lakeshore right-hander Brett Brooks had no such problem.
Brooks consistently worked ahead in the count and used his sinker to force the Falcons (22-10) to hit ground ball after ground ball. Brooks worked six innings and recorded only one fly-ball out.
“He has a two-seamer that has a lot of sink to it,” said Lakeshore coach Devin Scott, whose 18th-seeded team will face Lutcher in the second round. “He is a groundball pitcher for us, and it forces us to stay in the game as a defense and make plays behind him. We did that.”
Anchoring Lakeshore’s air-tight infield defense was third baseman Nicholas Poret, who handled all four of his chances flawlessly.
Poret turned in two key plays in the fourth inning.
With Lakeshore (17-15) clinging to a 2-0 lead, Northwood catcher Slade Baker worked the count in his favor and drilled a 2-0 pitch to the left-center gap for a double.
Dustin Brown, the next hitter, then smacked a hard grounder at Poret, who fielded it cleanly and threw out Brown. A strikeout and another grounder to Poret snuffed out Northwood’s last best threat.