If there’s a future in Northlake Christian’s baseball season, the Wolverines are going to have to avoid something they haven’t done all season.
Lose consecutive games.
Episcopal’s Chris Thibodaux limited Northlake Christian to one hit and the host Knights pushed across a pair of runs in the fourth inning for a 2-0 victory Friday in the first game of a Class 2A best-of-three regional playoff series.
The two teams meet again at Episcopal in Game 2 at 11 a.m. Saturday with Sean Tweedy pitching to keep Northlake Christian’s season alive and force a third and deciding game.
“It came down to two very good teams,” Northlake coach Tim Rogers said. “It came down to a couple of plays that we didn’t execute.”
Rogers said his offense came into the game outscoring opponents by a 3-1 margin.
Thibodaux (10-1) was nearly flawless in registering the complete-game victory. He hit two batters in the fourth, allowed Justin Estrada’s single in the fifth with the Wolverines getting another runner on in the seventh on an error.
“He had good command of the strike zone and really filled it up and threw a lot of strikes,” Rogers said. “I can’t put my finger on why we weren’t more successful. Typically, we’re a much better hitting team.”
Northlake (20-7), which had won seven of its past eight games, went down in order until an out in the fourth when Thibodaux hit Logan Stevens and Tweedy in consecutive at-bats.
Thibodaux came back to get third baseman Diego Sanchez to fly out to shallow right field and caught catcher Buddy Kyle looking at strike three.
Northlake kept Episcopal (24-6) off the board in the second after left fielder Cole Bilbo threw out courtesy runner Eglin Howell at the plate trying to score from second on Cliff Daigle’s single.
The Knights scored twice against Stevens when Chris Beckman Jr. led off the fourth with a single and Wayne Stabiler, who was attempting to sacrifice, reached safely when Stevens slipped trying to cover the bunt.
Matthew Garrett sacrificed both runners over and Matthew Distefano drove in Beckman with a sacrifice fly to center. Daigle then beat out an infield single that scored grant Bergeron.
Stevens allowed six hits, three of which were infield singles, walked three and struck out four in his 88-pitch outing. His final walk in the fifth was erased on a double play with a strikeout and Kyle throwing out his second baserunner trying to steal.
“There’s small things we didn’t execute or do well,” Rogers said. “That’s the difference in the game.”