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KENLY — The North Johnston High varsity baseball team got 14 strikeouts in a complete game from starting pitcher Dylan Pitts to help complete the season sweep of Princeton High, 5-0, on Friday.
Pitts allowed two hits and walked a batter on his way to his second win of the season in the nonconference game. Panthers head coach Brian Ford was happy to see Pitts respond well from a rough outing on Monday against Smithfield-Selma.
“His last outing he just didn’t have it, struggled with his location, and it was a great bounce-back outing from him and we definitely needed it because our bats were asleep for most of the day,” Ford said.
North Johnston (7-0) of the 2-A Eastern Plains Conference could only get three hits on the board and used aggressive base running and Princeton errors to score. The Panthers, who won the first meeting 6-0 on Feb. 28 at Princeton, stole six bases, advanced on a passed ball and even scored from second on a wild pitch.
“We’re going to stay aggressive on the base paths,” Ford said. “If we get guys on, we do a fairly good job of moving the runners, so we’re going to put pressure on defenses by stealing bases, bunting and moving guys over.”
The Bulldogs (2-3) of the 1-A Carolina Conference received a strong performance from sophomore Grey Gurganious, making his first start on varsity, who pitched 6 1/3 innings, allowing three hits, four walks and five runs — four earned. Gurganious also struck out seven.
“We called him up from J.V. today just to see whatever he could give us, I was thinking maybe three or four, and he went five,” Princeton head coach Justin Willoughby said. “He’s got a good arm, he’s got a good command of his pitches and it’s just a matter of getting him some varsity innings.”
The Bulldogs, who have just two seniors and three juniors, dropped its second straight after losing to conference foe Neuse Charter on Thursday following a pair of wins. Willoughby believes his team will mature and be ready to compete for a conference crown.
“Every time we get a chance to play the game, it’s a chance for us to get better,” Willoughby said. “We just want a chance to get on the field, learn from our experiences and try to get better pitch by pitch. It’s just one of those things where we’re young and trying to figure out how to handle things. We can compete with anybody.”
Score by innings:
WP-Dylan Pitts (2-0) 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 14 SO. LP-Grey Gurganious (0-1) 5.1 IP, 3 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 4 BB, 7 SO.
LEADING HITTERS — North Johnston: Tucker Batten 2-3, SB, 2 R; Ty Narron 1-2, 2B, RBI, 2SB, R, BB;Ilmar Ramirez 1-3, RBI, SB. Princeton: Charlie Benton 1-2; Tyler Thompson 1-3.