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SHALLOTTE—Ethan Cox’s arm was “on” from the get-go, and the left-hander led West Brunswick to a 5-0 win over North Brunswick Friday night.
The victory sent the Trojans into the championship game of the Touchstone Energy Beach Diamond Invitational Baseball Tournament.
“A 3-hit shutout with 10 Ks is a good day’s work,” said a beaming West coach Mike Alderson.
Cox got stronger as the game went on, recording eight of his 10 strikeouts in the last four innings.
“He’s what we call a backwards pitcher,” Alderson said of his southpaw. “He was throwing his curveball over for strikes, and he was throwing his change-up over for strikes. That’s what sets up his fastball.”
After North’s second batter D.J. Graham singled up the middle, Cox didn’t allow but two more hits the rest of the game.
“Certainly, I’m disappointed,” said North Brunswick coach Randy Fennell. “It was a closer game than the scoreboard showed. We played them a much tighter game than the last time we played them.
“We did what we needed to do defensively—we just didn’t hit tonight. Part of our philosophy was to have six strikeouts or less. I told them if we had 10 or 12 strikeouts, we wouldn’t win.”
Cox not only recorded double-digits in strikeouts, but he also let just three balls get out of the infield all night. West’s outfielders could have taken a snooze.
By contrast, the Trojans kept North Brunswick’s outfielders scurrying as they chased down 11 hits and caught three long flies.
West’s Pat Kamfolt had a perfect night in three trips to the plate, while Wally Kamfolt went 2-for-3, Joey Granados 2-for-4 and Logan Tripp 1-for-1.
“I’ve been pleased with our defense and our hitting,” Alderson said. “We’ve been making solid contact, and we’re getting better at swinging at good pitches. When you swing at good pitches, good things happen.”
West, 7-3, got a double from Zack Spivey in the second inning. Tripp moved to third on that hit and scored on the North pitcher’s throwing error to third base. It was the Scorpions’ only error of the game.
West scored again in the third on back-to-back hits by Pat Kamfolt and Granados to give the Trojans a 2-0 lead.
Scorpion second baseman Adam Herring unloaded on a pitch in the fifth—power-driving the ball to the left field fence for a double. Everybody in the press box said that would have been a home run in North’s ballpark, but West’s outfield is deeper. It’s about 350 feet down the left-field line, Alderson said.
North coach Fennell agreed, “It definitely would have been out (of the park) at our field.”
North’s other shining star was catcher Dakota Irwin, who blocked many a ball in the dirt and then threw out Pat Kamfolt trying to steal second in the sixth.
West had added three runs in the fifth when Pat Kamfolt walked and stole second, and Granado’s line drive glanced off the pitcher’s glove. Josh Powell singled to left field to drive in Kamfolt.
Wally Kamfolt then singled up the middle, but North center fielder Mikhail Wheeler made a perfect throw to Irwin, who blocked the plate and tagged out Granados.
Still, the four consecutive singles by Granados, Powell, Wally Kamfolt and Tripp accounted for West’s final three runs.
Cox, the winning pitcher, went the distance. Randall Rabon took the loss. North brought in knuckleball-pitcher Blake Norris at the start of the fifth, and Cody Harper relieved him after West’s four straight singles.
NB 000 000 0—0 3 1
WB 011 030 x—5 11 1
Leading hitters—WB: P. Kamfolt 3-for-3, W. Kamfolt 2-for-3, Granados 2-for-4, Tripp 1-for-1, Powell 1-for-3, Spivey 1-for-3, Ponds 1-for-3. NB—Graham 1-for-2, Herring 1-for-3 (2B), Norris 1-for-3.