Don’t let its overall record deceive you.
Northlake Christian is going to be a tough out for anybody come playoff time in Class 2A.
A five-run third inning propelled Northlake to a 13-3 win over Pine on Thursday afternoon. The game was called after five innings because of the 10-run mercy rule.
The win caps a three-game district series sweep for the Wolverines (14-10, 5-1 8-2A) as Northlake took the previous two games over Pine (13-10, 5-3 8-2A) on Tuesday and Wednesday.
After pushing across two runs on bases-loaded walks in the first inning, Northlake erupted for five runs on only one hit to put the game away in the third inning.
Diego Sanchez and Christian Arcement led off the inning with back-to-back walks. Justin Estrada singled. Logan Stevens drove in the first run with after being hit by a pitch, and Ruston West cleared the bases with a three-run triple.
“I was just looking fastball, and I was able to hit it hard and clear the bases,” West said. “Our coaching staff always preaches ‘see fastball and hit fastball’ and I took it to heart on that at-bat. We did what we were supposed to do, and came away with a big win tonight.
“Anytime you can get a series sweep like we did over a good Pine team, it doesn’t matter what the score is. You are going to take the three wins. This was a team effort tonight. Everybody in the lineup really did their job, and we got good pitching. That equals a win.”
With two outs, four consecutive walks to Sean Tweedy, Taj Porter, Buddy Kyle and Sanchez drove in a run to finish out the scoring for Northlake.
In control of its own destiny now in the 8-2A district title race, Wolverines coach Chad Catalano said his team had its eyes on an even bigger prize. Heading into the game against Pine, Northlake was ranked seventh in the latest Class 2A power rankings.
“You look at the stats, and we only had six hits going into the fifth inning,” he said. “Pine’s pitching struggled a little bit, but it was our pitching and defense which kept us in the ball game. We may have not seen them at their best tonight, but they are a good ballclub which has a chance to earn a playoff berth. To get a three-game sweep on them is big.
“What I’m not happy with is we left a lot of guys on base tonight. If we want to make a run and finish the season in the postseason like we want, those are the type of things we must correct, because in closer games, they can end up costing you wins.”
Porter (3-1) picked up the win for Northlake. The junior right-hander didn’t surrender his first hit until the fourth inning. He allowed three runs on one hit, striking out four and didn’t walk a batter on the night.
Rion Terrell took the loss, giving up five runs on four hits, striking out three and walking four.