After Loss, North Faces Must-Win: “Get on track tonight, or we won’t be in the right game tomorrow.”

July 20 - Unable to solve Central right-hander Justyn Hudson, the North dropped a 10-1 decision this afternoon and now must win its game against the West tonight to advance to tomorrow’s gold medal game at the Commonwealth Games in Lynchburg. 

Hudson went the distance, scattering six hits to stymie a North lineup that pounded 15 hits in an 11-4 win over the East last night. Hudson was a first-team Class 3 all-state selection as a junior at Park View-South Hill this spring. With the win, the Central moves to 2-0 and locked up a spot in the gold medal contest. 

“I thought our approach was pretty bad,” North coach Mike Covington said. “We had a lot of first-pitch outs, we never really gave him a chance to get in trouble. It was just a bad day, all the way around.”

North starter Teddy Merritt (McLean) was charged with six runs on five hits in three-plus innings, and reliever Wyatt Shenkman (Riverside) allowed four runs on four hits in four innings. 

“I threw a lot of strikes, which I was happy about,” said Merritt, a 6-foot-6 right-hander who committed earlier this month to High Point. “But I left balls up, and that’s why I gave up so many hits.”

An RBI single by Braden Mack (Potomac) cut the North’s early deficit to 2-1 in the bottom of the third, but the Central responded the next inning with two runs on Merritt and two more when a single past a drawn-in infield allowed two inherited runners to score on Shenkman. The Central scored four in the sixth to put the game away. 

The North is in danger of missing the gold medal game for just the fourth time in the 29-year history of the tournament. Covington told his charges they needed to move on quickly to be ready for what’s essentially an elimination game tonight. 

“Go get some rest, flush it, not much you can say about it,” the coach said. “Come back and get on track tonight, or we won’t be in the right game tomorrow.”

Notable: In today’s second game, the West beat the East, 4-3, so is also 1-1 entering tonight’s game … Tre WIlliams (South County) continues to swing a hot bat. He tripled and scored on Mack’s RBI in the second, then singled in the fifth and he’s 4-for-5 on the weekend … Ryan Dooley (South Lakes) led off with an infield single and has three hits through the first two games … Nathan Cmeyla (Briar Woods) and Eddie Eisert (Bishop O’Connell) had the North’s other two hits … Nathan Knowles (Yorktown) is expected to start tonight’s game. 

Quotable: “It’s a big crowd, there’s a lot of coaches and scouts here and you just want to do your best.” - Central starter Justyn Hudson, after tossing a complete game today. 

Next: The North plays in the final pool play game tonight against the West.

Photo of coach Mike Covington by Joey Kamide