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NCWC baseball opens season 2-0

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By PATRICK MASON
Sports Writer

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Noah Shrock had been throwing in the home bullpen before the N.C. Wesleyan bats allowed him to sit down.

The Nash Central graduate and Bishops closer wasn’t needed in the first game of an eventual double-header sweep of Eastern Mennonite on Saturday as part of the season opener for the NCWC. But Shrock played a large role in finishing the second.

NCWC scored four runs in the fifth inning to earn a 5-1 win in the opener, then needed Shrock to close out a 4-3 win in the second game. Shrock pitched the final two innings of the second-game win, which kicked off the Bishops’ season with a pair of wins.

“It felt good,” Shrock said. “I’m glad I pitched this game.”

Coach Greg Clifton, the longtime Faith Christian coach in his first season with the Bishops, earned his first two wins as a college coach. Clifton is coming off consecutive state championships with the Patriots, and is still feeling his way around the NCWC roster a bit.

One constant Clifton can count on is Shrock, who is a solid piece in the back of the bullpen along with Luke Mills and Kevin Williams. For Shrock, who had three strikeouts and a walk over his two innings Saturday, the key is to get back to his peak, which he said he felt like he was at during freshman season.

Shrock had a 1.08 ERA in the 2016-17 season as a Bishops freshman over 16.2 innings. He had eight strikeouts in that span. He entered his sophomore season rehabbing from surgery on his right leg, his push leg, which led to a down season where he threw 13.1 innings and finished with a 9.45 ERA with 18 strikeouts.

“I’m trying to get back to where I was my freshman year because I was pretty lights out,” he said. “I’m trying to do some stuff to get back there. I had a knee surgery right before my sophomore year and my knee was a little beat. I might have came back a little early then, but it should be good now.”

The Bishops (2-0) used a big inning to grab Game 1, then used situational hitting in the second game to push across a few runs. Nick Beaver drew a bases-loaded walk to push across the tying run, then Moses Vigo sent a sacrifice fly to deep right-center field to score the eventual winning run in the fifth.

Shrock came on to shut down the final two innings.

“Here,” Clifton said of coaching a college team, “You have more pitchers and you can do more things. You can look at matchups more. Like Noah, you get him the ball with a lead and it’s light out.”

NCWC hosts Eastern Mennonite for the final game of the three-game set at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

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