By MATTHEW BROWN
Journal Sports Writer
Cole McArthur went 4-for-4 at the plate and struck out six batters in three relief innings Tuesday. McArthur and the Northside High Eagles completed a two-game regular-season sweep of Warner Robins High winning 5-3 at the Demon Diamond.
Coupled with Houston County High’s loss at Hardaway earlier in the day, Blake Cannady’s Eagles took sole possession of first place in the Region 1-AAAA north sub-region at 7-1 The team that finishes the regular season first in this sub-region will play the fifth-place club in the 1-AAAA playoffs that begin on April 27.
Warner Robins’ fifth loss in a row overall and the Hardaway win made the Demons that fifth-place team (3-7) going into the weekend. The Hawks are slightly ahead for fourth place at 4-7 and are finished with region games.
McArthur drove in Northside’s first run in Tuesday’s contest, scored two times himself, and his fourth hit led to an insurance run for the Eagles (credited to his courtesy runner A.J. Booker) in the top of the seventh.
Kendall Scott also had two hits and two RBI as the Northside right fielder.
Ty Odom and Landen Hattaway each had an RBI single on Warner Robins’ side of the scorebook.
Odom pitched the entire game for head coach Bill Beatty. He allowed 10 hits and struck out four. His only two walks of the game came in the top of the first, a frame where Northside staked claim to a 2-0 lead and never relinquished the advantage.
It was Jesus Monserrat drawing a free pass in the opening moments, and he advanced via a hit-and-run though Jack Montgomery grounded out. McArthur proceeded to rip a double into left scoring Monserrat.
Hunter Bobbitt followed stroking a single into right field scoring McArthur, who started the game at third base. Designated hitter Ethan Broome had the first of his two hits, and a walk loaded the bases with still the one out showing.
Odom retired the next two keeping the bags filled; though the Eagles sent eight in all to the plate it stayed a 2-0 game.
One common occurrence Tuesday was third strikes getting away, and that helped Warner Robins get two of the three runs.
Dillon Blackwell led off the home first with an infield hit and A.J. Priaux was hit by a pitch with one out. At two outs, Blackwell was on third base and scored when Odom struck out against Northside left-hander Brent Sappe.
The third strike went wild, as did the throw to first. Warner Robins, though, couldn’t take advantage of the first-and-third setup, Sappe leaving the two on base.
Sappe would go four innings with five hits allowed, one walk and three strikeouts.
In the third inning the Eagles went back ahead by two, 3-1, with McArthur leading off with a hit. Bobbitt sacrificed him to second, but the Demon infield held McArthur at second while getting the second out. That’s when Scott delivered his first hit and RBI.
Warner Robins had an answer in its half, Alex Hvizdzak drawing a leadoff walk. Sappe fanned the next two batters, but that second third strike got away to send Hvizdzak into scoring position.
Odom singled on a 2-2 pitch to once again pull his team within one at 3-2.
Northside would take advantage of an errant third strike in getting the two-run lead back in the top of the fourth. Brian Dyson reached on an error with one out, stole second and took third base on a wild pitch.
Odom struck out Monserrat, who watched all of Dyson’s action unfold at the plate. But Dyson scored and Monserrat reached. Warner Robins avoided further damage as catcher Parker Suggs threw Monserrat out while trying to steal.
Every time the Eagles were up by two, the Demons found a way to get the deficit back to one. That was the case in the home fourth.
Designated hitter Michael Lee doubled to the centerfield wall to lead off. With one out Hattaway singled the run home. Nathan Dempsey also had a hit, but the combination of Monserrat at shortstop and Jordan Red at second base turned an inning-ending double play.
From there, McArthur retired the first six batters he faced with five strikeouts over the fifth and sixth frames. In his first at-bat as a pitcher, he singled to lead off the seventh. Booker stole second, advanced on Broome’s second hit and scored as the Demons couldn’t get a double play on Scott’s grounder.
Dempsey did turn a twin-killing in the top of the sixth. Blackwell had Warner Robins’ only hit off McArthur, a two-out double to center in the seventh.