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North Brunswick finishes 12-0 in the Waccamaw Conference

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

LELAND—The North Brunswick High School baseball team completed a perfect conference season by beating South Columbus 7-0 Friday night.

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On Senior Night, Tyler Smith gave up five hits in six innings as the Scorpions finished 12-0 in the Waccamaw Conference. Junior outfielder Daniel Graham homered and tripled as North improved to 19-4 overall.

The championship was the first in coach Randy Fennell’s five seasons at North. The prospect of a championship seemed unlikely at the start of the season, as the Scorpions won their first two games but then lost three straight, including an 11-3 loss March 10 to West Brunswick.

“I told our guys we’re getting ready to run a string here,” Fennell recalled after the loss, “where I know we can be better than any team we’re getting ready to play. And we’re going to have a run if you just don’t lose confidence. It would have been easy for this team to fold after three losses and go through things haphazardly and not get things done.”

The Scorpions kept their confidence and won nine straight before losing 6-2 April 14 to Southern Alamance in the Touchstone Energy Beach Diamond Invitational. Since then, they have won eight straight games and now have home games for the first two rounds of the Class 2-A state playoffs. (North’s first game is 7 p.m. Friday against a foe to be determined.)

“We practice hard every day,” Fennell said. “Every time they step on the grass, they’re trying to get better as a baseball player. I honestly believe, because each player cares about his teammates and looks forward to coming out here to practice and doing things for the team, it has paid dividends for us as far making these long runs.”

Another key has been the leadership of the six seniors: Dakota Irwin, Randall Rabon, Weston Russell, Tyler Smith, Frank Walsh and Trey Watson.

“I got six of the best seniors any coach could ever ask for,” Fennell said. “And that’s not always been the case. In the past, we’ve had seniors who made practice a headache and kind of made it not as much for a coach because you were dealing with problems all the time.

“These guys have had their heads on straight. Not saying they won’t make a mistake tomorrow, but it’s been a joy to be with them this year, and they’re the ones who had kind of led this team in the right direction.”

About the playoffs, Fennell has one goal.

“All we talk about is state championship,” he said. “Whether that is realistic or not, our goal is to win the state championship.”

Against the Stallions, North took a 1-0 lead in the third inning on Graham’s home run to right field. Rabon’s bases-loaded sacrifice fly drove in another run.

In the fourth, Graham’s one-out triple scored Russell, who had led off with a walk.

North scored three times in the fifth. Tim Walsh walked, Irwin doubled to right, Rabon was intentionally walked and Frank Walsh walked, forcing in a run. The two other runs scored on an overthrow of first base.

North’s final run came in the sixth. David Zacek reached on an error. With one out, Irwin singled. A wild pitch allowed the run to score.

Graham finished with a home run and a triple in three at-bats and three RBIs. He also was hit by a pitch. Tim Walsh was 2-for-3 with a double and a walk. Irwin was 2-for-3 with a double and a walk. Rabon singled, was intentionally walked and had a sacrifice fly. Frank Walsh was 1-for-3 with a walk and one RBI.

Zacek pitched the seventh, striking out two.