The Times West Virginian

Sports

April 20, 2014

Pitching pushes North past Monarchs in game two of doubleheader: PHOTOS

RACHEL — North Marion coach Vic Seccuro wanted to send a message to his team, telling them to focus, bear down and grit out a victory.

After falling 13-8 to Braxton County in game one of a Saturday doubleheader, the Huskies bounced back to beat John Marshall, 4-2, Saturday at North Marion High School.

A strong effort on the mound by Matt Hawkins kept the Huskies’ (4-9) spirits alive and rallied the bats.

“That’s one of the best games Matt Hawkins has pitched in a North Marion uniform,” Seccuro said of the right-hander. “He kept them off balance. His curveball was breaking good. He kept them mixed up and that’s what you need to do to a team like that.”

Hawkins’ effort, coupled with solid defensive play behind him, Seccuro said, was the key to victory.

“We’ve told them and told them if you play great defense, it’s going to be close,” the coach said. “That puts you in the game and we were in the game and we won.”

On the hill, Hawkins threw a complete game, striking out seven, giving up just five hits and allowing two runs to pick up the win.

After allowing a leadoff single which scored on a Trevor Hardesty triple, Hawkins sat down eight straight Monarch hitters.

With the pitchers dueling, Seccuro knew he had to make a gutsy move to get his team some confidence and get the dugout going.

Trailing 1-0, Seccuro and the Huskies went to small ball to get back into the game.

Devin Ayersman drew a leadoff walk in the fourth inning and made it all the way to third on a sacrifice bunt by Hawkins. Ayersman would then tie the game up on a perfectly executed suicide squeeze by Jacob Brunett.

“I just wanted to get the run and tie the game. It was 1-0 at the time,” the skipper said of the decision. “We had the people. Brunett is one of the best at small ball. That’s execution.”

On the offensive side of things, Travis Smith went a perfect 3-for-3 with an RBI to lead the surge.

For Smith and the rest of the seniors, game two came after they were all benched, a move that Seccuro hoped would help them get their heads right after the team had lost two games he felt they should have won.

“You just don’t know how they think and what they’re thinking totally,” he said, “but I know they were focused. They played good baseball.”

Following their leadoff hitter, Keegun McCullough went 1-for-3 with an RBI, Christian Tomana went 1-for-2 with a walk and Cody Opron added a hit.

“We were focused and we were in the mode and wanted to win,” Seccuro added. “I’m happy with that.”

In the first game, Ryan Jolliffe went 2-for-2, recording the only two hits for North. Braxton County was led by Greg Bly, who went 2-for-4 with four RBIs.

The Huskies now look ahead to Monday when they’ll travel to play Lincoln at 7 p.m.

Email Matt Welch at mwelch@timeswv.com or follow on Twitter @MattWelch_TWV.

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