F&M Bank Classic: Northwest Cabarrus 9, Carson 1
By Mike London
KANNAPOLIS — Carson’s ugliest loss all season unfolded at CMC-NorthEast Stadium on Friday, and the culprits were Northwest Cabarrus’ Ryan Keziah, Jordan Goodman and Corey Seager.
Seager, the younger, larger brother of Kyle, the Seattle Mariners third baseman, you already know about it.
He did it again. His three-run homer in the second inning, a rocketing blast to right-center, gave Northwest a comfortable cushion in a surprisingly easy 9-1 win against the Cougars in the F&M Bank Classic.
Keziah, the winning pitcher, tossed six strong innings, while Goodman was a line-drive machine. The only time he didn’t get a hit was his vicious liner to first base that resulted in a double play.
“I was seeing the ball and looking to get on that first pitch,” said Goodman, who rapped two doubles. “I wasn’t trying to do too much, just wanted to move the runners.”
He moved them several bases at a time, and he’s a feel-good story. He’s had three ACL surgeries (both knees) that cost him his freshman and sophomore seasons.
“Jordan’s an easy kid to pull for,” NWC coach Joe Hubbard said. “He’s having a tremendous year for us, not just with his hitting in the No. 4 spot but with the job he’s done at first base.”
If you’re wondering about Carson highlights, that won’t take long. There was Colton Laws and … well, there was Colton Laws.
The tall sophomore was about it. He was outstanding after taking the mound in the second inning and silenced NWC’s loud bats through the fifth.
“Colton was in command of his pitches and his velocity is getting up there,” Carson coach Chris Cauble said. “We’ve got our biggest week of the season coming up. As good as he looked today, he could figure into things on the mound.”
Carson (8-8) started Dillon Atwell on the hill. He was unbeaten and enjoying a superb season, but Northwest’s lineup is not the one you want to face if you’re not sharp.
Mistakes that are smacked for singles by most teams are doubles or homers for Northwest, which presents a lineup that starts with UNC commitment Tanner Bigham and South Carolina signee Seager.
“Atwell was missing up today, and Seager is Seager,” Cauble said. “And that Goodman kid got pitches at his belly-button and just ripped them.”
Seager’s three-run homer ignited a five-run second that settled the outcome. The no-doubt-about-it bomb followed an error and a walk.
“The homer came on a curveball,” Seager reported. “It’s not like I was looking for a curveball, but I just saw it early — right out of his hand.”
Asked about what a healthy Goodman has meant to the Northwest lineup, Seager beamed.
“It’s huge,” he said. “It means I don’t get walked every time.”
Jarrin Hogue also is swinging a lethal bat. He drove in two more runs with a single and a double.
Keziah shut out the Cougars until the sixth when they finally got an unearned run on back-to-back HBPs and a throwing error.
“My fastball was working well today, and I was able to keep it right at the knees,” Keziah said. “Every pitch was on for me early. Later, I started to lose my curveball, but I still was able to get some clutch outs.”
For Hubbard, Keziah’s fine performance was pure sunshine. Northwest is still trying to establish a No. 2 starter behind ace Weston Smith.
Keziah showed a lot.
“It was the best he’s thrown this year,” Hubbard said.
Battered and bruised, Carson looks to bounce back today at 1 p.m. against Mount Pleasant.
“We really need a win to build some momentum for the NPC,” Cauble said. “We need to get right. We need to get back to being the team we were earlier.”
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