Northpoint advances past first round in TSSAA state baseball
In the now three straight appearances for the Northpoint Christian School Trojans baseball team at the TSSAA Division II-A Final Four, Tuesday night marked a first for coach Stephen Kirkpatrick’s group: a first round win.
The Trojans, which fell short of a state championship the two previous seasons, made no doubt this year would be different, by dominating Christian Academy of Knoxville (CAK) in a 12-3 victory.
In the past two visits to the Spring Fling in Murfreesboro, Northpoint has lost its first round game, only to battle back through the loser’s bracket to reach the championship round.
“A double-elimination tournament favors the winner’s bracket, so winning the first one is huge,” said Kirkpatrick. “But, you gotta then win the second one. It’s winning the first two that sets you up for success.”
Northpoint got a solid hitting effort that hammered out 12 hits and took advantage of three CAK errors, Northpoint now has the chance to extract a bit of revenge Wednesday afternoon. The Trojans are paired with defending state champion Goodpasture Christian School in a 12:30 p.m. winners’ bracket game at Middle Tennessee Christian School. The Cougars opened the tournament Tuesday with a 6-0 victory over Silverdale Baptist Academy.
Pitcher JB Williams, a Northeast Community College signee, allowed four hits and struck out eight in six innings of work Tuesday and might have gone into the seventh, except that he had reached the 120 pitch count limit and couldn’t continue on the mound for the final inning. Williams struck out eight Warriors and walked five. Chapman struck out two of three batters he faced in CAK’s final at bat.
“Pitching-wise, it was clicking pretty good, outside of one or two innings,” Williams said about his performance. “Hitting could have been better. I felt I was locked in for two of the four at-bats. I could have been better on the other two.”
Of the 12 hits that came off of three CAK pitchers, including losing pitcher Luke Jones, four went for extra bases, including a pair of doubles from Hudson Brown, two of his five hits in five at bats for the contest. Rob Hayes and Seth Giamportone also doubled to lead the offensive attack.
Northpoint scored four runs in the first inning and added another in the second for a quick 5-0 lead. After CAK scored one in the third, the Trojans came back to plate three more in the fourth frame for a 8-1 lead.
“The first day, teams are sizing each other up and I think it was kind of good to get that start on them and their starting pitcher,” Kirkpatrick said. “The guy they threw (Luke Jones) has had a really good year.”
The Warriors got two runs back in their half of the fifth inning, but Northpoint finished the East Tennessee squad with two runs in each of the last two innings for the victory.
The Goodpasture-Northpoint matchup, pegged for approximately 12:30 p.m., will come after CAK and Silverdale meet at 10 a.m. in an elimination contest. The survivor of that game comes back at 5 p.m. Wednesday to meet the Goodpasture-Northpoint loser in another elimination meeting.
The two surviving teams after Wednesday’s play will move to Reese Smith Jr. Field at Middle Tennessee State University on Thursday, May 25, starting at 10 a.m. If a second game is needed, it will take place at 3 p.m. to determine the state champion.
The Trojans are playing for the school’s second state championship and first since the SBEC Trojans took home the title in 2009, defeating Tipton-Rosemark in the finals 17-5.
Last year, after losing to Franklin Grace in the opening round, Northpoint advanced in the loser’s bracket past Silverdale and Franklin Grace, then won the first game of the championship series before losing in the deciding contest to finish second.
“It’s a revenge game,” Kirkpatrick said about the matchup with Goodpasture. “It’s the pairing we wanted and it’s going to be a heck of a high school baseball game. I look forward to coaching in it.”
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