NORTH READING, Mass. -— The old adage in baseball is that pitching wins championships, and with the way North Reading pitcher, R.J. Warnock threw against Swampscott on Saturday, the Hornets must like their chances.
"Whenever R.J. pitches, we are always in the game," North Reading coach Frank Carey said.
Warnock threw a complete game only throwing 70 pitches, as No. 1 seed North Reading (19-2) cruised past No. 17 seed Swampscott (10-11), 6-1, in the first round of the Division 3 North playoffs. He allowed an unearned run in the first inning, but had few problems after that. He was shaken up on a play in the first inning, but he retired 10 batters in a row after the run scored to get on track.
"I kind of slammed my head into the ground going for the ball, I got a little dizzy, but I was fine after that," he said. "I was basically in the zone the entire game, I felt good and threw strikes."
Although Swampscott’s run came as a result of an error it isn’t something the Hornets are overly concerned about as it was their only error of the game.
"If we only make one error in a game, I will take it the rest of the playoffs," Carey said.
North Reading’s hurler was not too shabby at the plate recording two hits, an RBI, and a run. On the mound, he struck out seven and only allowed three hits; as his team’s defense picked him up when he needed them.
"My teammates picked me up by turning a double play, [and] they were catching everything," Warnock said. "If they hit the ball over their heads that is on me."
The Hornets surged offensively in the second and fourth innings by scoring three runs in both. In the second, Warnock and third basemen Thomas Day highlighted the inning at the plate. Warnock smacked a single up the middle brining home Michael Brandano. Day followed Warnock by driving a ball deep into the gap, in left, scoring Warnock as Day ended up on second, with a double.
"Tom is very underrated," Carey said. "He isn’t going to hit the balls out and off the trees here, but he has a very good swing, a good inside out stroke, and he has a good of a swing as anyone on my team."
Swampscott pitcher Al Wallach walked home the third run of the inning before getting out of the jam as he got Dennis Rollfs to pop out to shortstop.
When the Hornets surged again, in the fourth, Eric Gordon picked up two RBIs on a single and Shane Driscoll drew a walk with the bases loaded. The six runs were more than enough for Warnock as he was in cruise control on the mound.
"He is a very good pitcher, and I have all the confidence in the world in him," Carey said about Warnock.
Wallach battled for Swampscott throughout the game, but errors came back to bite The Big Blue as only two-of-the-six runs he allowed were earned.
"[Al] gave us a chance to win, but we didn’t help him out," Swampscott coach Jason Calichman said. "We had too many errors. When you don’t play your best against a team like [North Reading] this is what happens."
North Reading will next host No. 8 seed Newburyport (15-7) in a Tuesday quarterfinal.