Minden is in the hunt for a home playoff game, and the Crimson Tide greatly helped their cause Saturday on the road.
Pitchers Carson Bolyer and Caleb Jones combined to shut out Northwood 5-0 to secure a second place finish in District 1-4A if the Tide beat Huntington and Fair Park this coming week.
The senior pitched five scorless innings, allowing three hits and three walks as the the Falcons for the second time this season.
“I felt like I could have pitched better, but I threw strikes and pitched to contact,” said Bolyer as teammates on the Webster Parish school bus joked about leaving him. “When runners got on, I had to make sure my breaking ball was working right, and I think I did pretty good even though I always strive to do better.
“I threw against them last year too, and I guess I’ve adapted to their hitting and know what they can hit and what they can’t hit.”
Reliever Caleb Jones had similar success, not giving up a hit in his two innings and working around a seventh-inning error.
Minden (13-13, 6-3 District 1-4A) sat at No. 15 before Saturday’s game in the kenramsey.com power ratings, and coach Dean Francis said Saturday’s win is a boost after a disappointing loss to Loyola on Thursday.
“Going into the playoffs, we’ve still got Huntington and Fair Park in the district and also have to make up games against Calvary and North Webster,” Francis said. “We’re sitting at (No. 15) and trying to get that home-field advantage, and we definitely needed this one today against a Northwood team that has 19 wins.
“After Carson gave up two hits against (Northwood) last time, I told him it was his game today. He did well, getting into some situations that he got out of with the defense’s help. Northwood can hit the baseball, but I think Caleb is a pitcher who doesn’t throw as hard but can affect a team’s timing and throws strikes when he comes in.”
Minden scored three first-inning runs on Northwood starter Timmy Yelverton, who was replaced in the second inning by Justin Gaskin.
Bolyer doubled in a run before Sawyer Stephens scored on a wild pitch and Jones grounded out to score courtesy runner Jacob Johnson.
Gaskin threw three scoreless innings before Hutton Leppert had an RBI double in the fifth inning for a 4-0 lead. Gaskin was credited with another run on a sixth-inning sacrifice fly by Austin Sumner.
Northwood (19-7, 4-5), ranked No. 10 before Saturday, is still in position to host a playoff game, and coach Darien Dukes said his team isn’t panicking despite losing four of their last six games.
“We didn’t show up and hit, and that’s been our deal all year when we get beat,” Dukes said. “(Bolyer) did a great job of mixing stuff up, and we didn’t have good at-bats.
“You can’t ever push the panic button. The kids have it in them, and they proved they can hit earlier this season.”
The Falcons stranded three of their six runners in scoring position with another caught stealing third base. Three runners were stranded in the first two innings that ended a threat to respond early to Minden’s three runs.