The Touchstone Energy Beach Diamond Invitational wrapped up in Shallotte on Wednesday night as the West Brunswick baseball and softball teams claimed the spring break tournament trophies in the same year for the first time since the tournament’s inception in 2000.
As the Trojans were accepting their first-place honors on the baseball diamond, their counterparts inside the softball park across the athletic complex were staging a come from behind 5-4 win in extra innings. South Columbus carried a 4-1 lead into the bottom of the sixth when the home side rallied to tie the game, ultimately loading the bases in the final frame before plating the game-winner in walk off fashion.
Meanwhile, at the newly named Mike Alderson Field, the West Brunswick and North Brunswick ballclubs met in the finals for just the third time as the Trojans carried a 2-0 series lead in the game and already beat the Scorpions 4-2 on March 13 of this season.
With the stadium packed with baseball fans from across Brunswick County, West Brunswick sent 11 hitters to the plate in bottom of the first and scored five runs on six hits and three North Brunswick miscues en route to a 9-0 shutout.
“Anytime we play North Brunswick you always think its going to be a dog fight,” said West Brunswick Coach T.J. Spivey. “You expect it to be a 2-1, 3-2, 4-3. It’s a rival game. Coach [Dustin] Medlin does an excellent job with his guys. You’ve got two Division commits in the other dugout and we just came out with a lot of energy in that first inning and then finished it off.”
Cameron Lewis scattered six hits in a complete game effort as the senior right-handed hurler walked none and struck out five through seven innings of work.
Lewis was efficient, kept his pitches in the lower half of the strike zone and on both corners of the plate, which induced 10 ground balls out of the 21 outs recorded in the ballgame. He allowed just two runners to reach third base, but fanned two in the third to get out of the jam, while a fly ball to center and line drive right at second baseman Tyler McDuffie got him out of the first.
“I rely on my defense a lot and they played great tonight,” said Lewis. “I’m not a strikeout pitcher so I have to get the ground outs and pop outs and they were behind me tonight for sure.”
West Brunswick wasted no time to get on the board after Hunter Ashburn reached base off a Scorpions error with one out. Back-to-back base hits by Zack Johnson and Brett Babson quickly made it 2-0 and McDuffie doubled to right for a three-run lead.
With the Trojans still rallying in the first, Austin Turner picked up an RBI and Charlie Carcich put the Trojans in front by five on a line drive up the middle.
“When we get the lead early it really settles me down,” said Lewis. “I know I can pitch to contact and understand that it’s ok if they score a run or two because it doesn’t really matter when you have a lead like we do. I hope this will give us a little momentum and the extra push we need heading into a big stretch in our conference schedule.”
The 5-0 cushion was all the support Lewis needed as West Brunswick put up a four spot in the fifth to put the game in check. Carcich smacked a two-run single down the third base line to score McDuffie and Turner, who reached base on a base hit and error to lead off the inning. Stanley and Asburn also added run scoring singles in the frame.
Carcich, McDuffie and Babson finished with two hits, while Stanley went 3-for-4 with a run batted in.
“We really swung the bats tonight and Cameron gives us a chance to win each time out,” said Spivey. “This was huge for us because we have a real big week coming up with Ashley and Laney. We’re going try to take this and carry it into conference. I like where we are right now and I feel good about how we swung the bat this week.”
The Trojans look for the three-game regular season sweep next week as the two familiar foes face off in Leland on April 15.
West Brunswick improved to 13-3 overall and return to Mideastern Conference action on April 14. North Brunswick saw its seven-game winning streak come to a close as the Scorpions dropped to 8-5 overall, but remain 3-0 in the East Central Conference.
Box score R H E
North 000 000 0 0 5 5
West 500 040 X 9 11 0
WP: Cameron Lewis LP: Garrett Scoggins