When the Northlake Christian baseball team needed a boost in Friday’s Class 2A bidistrict playoff against Loreauville, the squad turned to starting pitcher Kevin Mahl. Good idea.
Mahl kept Loreauvile off kilter throughout the game. He threw a scant 65 pitches in six innings, allowing only four hits. He walked three in a 5-1 victory that sent the home-standing Wolverines to a regional playoff against Menard – a game that will be played at Northlake early next week.
“I felt good,” Mahl said. “All three of my pitches were working and I was able to throw my fastball for strikes. They were swinging the bats well and my defense stepped up behind me.”
Northlake (18-14) didn’t commit an error behind its starting pitcher. Only two Loureauville runners reached second base against the Wolverines.
“Kevin’s been our go-to guy all year,” Northlake coach Chad Catalano said. “He fills the strike zone up with three different pitches for strikes and he relies on his defense. That’s one of our strong points. He did his job and the defense did the job behind him.”
Both coach and pitcher realized there is room for improvement, however. The Wolverines stranded 12 runners against Loureauville (12-16.)
“We have to work on our extending our lead,” Catalano said. “And we’ll start on it tomorrow.”
Northlake scored three runs in the bottom of the first inning. Mahl reached on an infield single and Niko Porter doubled. Diego Sanchez scored both on a double to right field. Sanchez later scored on a single by Ruston West.
The Wolverines added a pair of runs in the fourth when Porter walked, Stephen Black singled and Sanchez walked to load the bases. Sean Tweedy was hit by a pitch to score a run and Buddy Kyle later walked to score another run.
Loreauville scored its lone run in the fifth when Tyson Chastant singled, advanced on a wild pitch and came home on a sacrifice fly by Matt Lissard.