Northwood junior pitcher Timmy Yelverton had a simple plan Tuesday — “throw it to the mitt.”
The key was what the ball did before it got to the mitt as Yelverton leaned on his curve to throw five scoreless innings of a 2-0 Northwood win against Loyola in the District 1-4A opener.
Yelverton struck out 10 Flyers and surrendered just two hits while working around an error and a walk.
“Our plan was to go straight at ’em (Loyola’s hitters),” Yelverton said. “My curve ball has been my main pitch all year, and it made my other pitches more effective.
“We don’t try to paint corners or anything. We just try to get it over the plate.”
Yelverton (5-0) escaped trouble in fifth inning after Loyola’s Nathan Jones singled followed by a Dillon Hostetler bunt single with one out.
Yelverton recorded his ninth strikeout before walking Matt Mazzanti to load the bases with two outs. But the junior struck out opposing Loyola pitcher Austin Townsend, who battled No. 5 Northwood (15-2) all game on the mound.
“Timmy established his breaking ball early, but he was able to throw all three pitches for strikes,” said Northwood coach Darien Dukes. “That makes it tough on hitters.
“We’ve had a lot of blowouts, but it’s also nice to know you can grind one out.”
Loyola’s Townsend was the main reason for Northwood’s struggles as he held the Falcons to three hits in 5-1/3 innings.
The Falcons manufactured one third-inning run when Yelverton sacrifice-flied-home Zayne Corbell, who drew a leadoff walk, stole second and advanced to third on a Deaulton Delgado ground out.
Townsend faced trouble in the fourth with two walks and a fielder’s choice to load the bases with no outs, but he recorded two of his seven strikeouts and induced an inning-ending ground ball to escape. Northwood picked up its lone run of the inning by scoring on a wild pitch in the last at-bat.
“Austin had a tremendous effort, and he’s now pitched against Byrd, Calvary and Northwood where he should have gotten wins but we lost,” Loyola coach Ron Fenwick said. “I told my team that I’m embarrased that we couldn’t play better.
“We’ve been playing against Class 5A teams, and I thought we could get to this pitcher tonight, but we didn’t. We’re not loose at the plate right now.”
Northwood’s Cole Barnett picked up his first save with two scoreless innings, stranding a runner at third base to keep the Flyers off the board.
The Falcons have now won six in a row headed into Thursday’s trip against North DeSoto.
The Flyers (3-15) drop their fourth straight going into Thursday’s home game with Minden.