Maize baseball picked up a 7-2 win against Northwest on Friday night at Westurban, and though it wasn't won in the prettiest of ways, Eagles coach Rocky Helm said it was a win his team needed heading into regional play Thursday.
"I love playing great teams and I love playing close games," Helm said. "If we're going to advance to where we would like to eventually be, then we're going to have to win close games. We're going to have to learn how to manufacture runs any way that we can.... Even though it was ugly, it was a fun game."
Ace Brandon Phillips and the Northwest infield had an uncharacteristic first inning that ended in an early 4-0 Maize lead.
Phillips walked three that inning and the defense made two errors, the second of which was costly. A throw from third short-hopped Northwest first baseman Ethan Chadick, allowing runners to score from second and third.
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Phillips, however, recovered and pitched a solid game. He allowed three hits in 4 1/3 innings.
Maize catcher Tori Bell was one of the few Maize batters to consistently get on base. He had three hits and an RBI to help his team improve to 18-2 on the season.
"We feel good," Bell said. "This was a big win against a good team that we played. We've got a lot of confidence right now going into regionals."
Maize's Gage Byers (6-0) had seven strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings. He seemed to be in the zone until a balk call in the sixth threw him off of his game. He surrendered a two-run double to deep right field to Northwest catcher Bob Arens.
Arens knows that even though his team lost the game, the way it played defense and tried to fight back in the sixth and seventh innings, producing three doubles, gives Northwest (16-4) some confidence heading into the regional.
"Tonight was definitely a team builder. It was probably the best I've ever seen this team play together. I believe this will be the building stone taking us in to regionals and on to state."
Bishop Carroll wins City League — Bishop Carroll swept Southeast 15-1 and 20-1 to finish 16-0 in the City League. Carroll has an overall record of 18-2.
Maize 7, Northwest 2
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