Northern shut out by league leaders
Tyler Pickard hit three home runs and pitcher Matt Wacenske allowed only two hits to help Cardinal Gibbons stay at the top of the 3-A Carolina Conference standings in Thursday’s 12-0, five-inning win over Northern Vance.
Gibbons led 3-0 after four innings and two of those runs were unearned, but the wheels came off for the Vikings in the fifth.
Pickard, hitting second in the lineup, knocked a pair of two-run shots in the fifth, one to left and one to right-center field as the Crusaders logged 14 plate appearances in the frame.
Gibbons is tied for first place with Orange after a loss Tuesday to the Panthers. Chapel Hill is sitting in third while Northern owns the fourth spot.
“We were hoping to catch them flat and I think we did a little bit there at the beginning of the game,” said Northern coach Benji Nelson. “We played well up to the top of the fifth inning.”
Wacenske, a right-hander, finished with seven strikeouts.
“We just couldn’t sit back on him,” said Nelson.
Northern had a run-scoring opportunity in the first inning following Pickard’s first round-tripper of the game.
TaBrian Scott led off with a base hit, ultimately moving to third after Barry Purnell’s groundout to shortstop.
But Scott was tagged out at home when Gibbons’ second baseman Daniel Pederson threw to the plate after fielding Trey Stainback’s grounder.
“That was an opportunity to score a run,” said Nelson. “It just didn’t happen. Our guys are a lot about confidence. I think if we get out of there 1-1 in that first inning — our confidence is high to start with — that would just boost it even more.”
“Some guys had some good swings on some pitches, hit hard,” added Nelson. “It was just right at some people.”
Zach Pegram threw 4.2 innings for Northern before he was relieved by Kale Boone.
Leftfielder Thomas Abbott was out with an injury for the Vikings, but is expected back next week.
Northern, 3-4 in conference play, visits Chapel Hill Tuesday, hosts Southern Vance Wednesday and closes the week with a trip to Orange.
GIBBONS — Stephen Scott (3-for-4), Tyler Pickard (4-for-4, 5 RBI), Daniel Pederson (2-for-4), Dom Velluci (1-for-3), Brian Nelson (1-for-3), Brandon Loy (1-for-3, 3-run home run)
NORTHERN — TaBrian Scott (1-for-2), Kale Boone (1-for-2)
Viking softball falls to Gibbons
Northern Vance was defeated by Cardinal Gibbons, 11-6, Thursday.
Kara Reese had a home run for the Vikings and Rishanna Cheek was 3-for-4 with an RBI.
Northern visits Chapel Hill Tuesday.
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