June 14, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

Strong starting pitching keeps Northwood in contention for PCL championship

Northwood baseball coaches, including head coach Josh Keithly, meet with the Timberwolves following Friday’s win over University. (Photo: Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone).

Northwood High School’s baseball team has relied on outstanding starting pitching, solid defense and timely hitting to remain atop the Pacific Coast League standings, tied with Beckman, with two weeks left in the regular season.

Northwood (13-5-1 overall) enters a three-game PCL series with Sage Hill this week with six games left. Both Northwood and Beckman are 11-3-1 overall in league play.

In their fourth PCL game of the season, the Timberwolves notched a 0-0 tie against Beckman in nine innings in a game called due to darkness, then won two games to take the series. Beckman (15-5-1 overall) has won five league games in a row and meets Woodbridge in a three-game series this week.

“We just got to keep plugging away one team at a time, one game at a time and hopefully we will get there,” said first year Northwood coach Josh Keithly. “I’m blessed to have great guys around me, a good coaching staff, we implemented some new stuff during the season and some new mentality for the boys and they’re just executing really good.

“They’re fun to work with, great kids, you can’t ask for anything more than that.”

The pitching staff, which has seven shutouts in PCL play, is led by USC commit Paul Grossman, a junior, who improved his record to 5-1 with a 2-0 victory over University in nine innings Friday. Grossman pitched into the ninth inning, the longest outing in his career, before giving way to Andres Hernandez, who got the save.

“He’s tough to hit, Keithly said of Grossman.

Senior Casey Euper, who recently committed to UC Santa Barbara, has been impressive on the mound for Northwood as well with a 4-1 record. Going into Tuesday’s game, Euper had not allowed an earned run in 39 innings and given up just one unearned run. He’s struck out 60, allowed 16 hits and walked nine.

“He’s been a bulldog, our pitching staff has kept us in the games,” Keithly said of Euper. “Timely hitting too, we got to score as well too. The boys stick to their approaches, we don’t need much to win but we get three or four and we kind of sit pretty good.”

On Friday against University, it was junior outfielder Carter Liu who led the way with two hits and the go-ahead RBI single in the ninth inning. Euper also had a hit and a sacrifice fly.

Grossman, Luke Hansen, Kai Mo, Colin Carlson and Rylan Littlejohn have also hit well.

The Timberwolves are looking for a strong finish. First they will focus on Sage Hill (5-16, 4-1)) before taking on Portola in a three-game series next week. Beckman wraps up PCL play next week vs. Irvine.

“We need to take care of business and keep playing the way we do,” Grossman said after Friday’s game. “If we keep playing the way we do, we have a good shot.”

—Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone; timburt@ocsportszone.com