This season, Northeast has benefited from quality pitching and timely hitting. That pattern continued Friday night in a 4-1 win over Seminole.
Josh Hale threw a three-hitter and freshman Kobe Hartley had a two-run single in the sixth inning to break it open as Northeast (16-4, 7-1) stayed atop Class 7A, District 9. A win over either Pinellas Park or Seminole next week will clinch the No.1 seed for the Vikings.
"We battled the entire game and that's kind of the way it's gone for us," Northeast coach Rob Stanifer said. "And we got a hit in a key spot and capitalized on our opportunities. In year's past we haven't been able to do that, but this year it's been in our favor."
Northeast's opportunity came in the sixth. Before that, Seminole starter Joey Favetta shut out Northeast. But a high pitch count forced Warhawks coach Jeff Pincus to replace Favetta with Logan Lipsch and Billy Mock in the sixth.
Jason Mugavero greeted Lipsch with a solid single to right. One out later, Brien Story and Jesse Moeller walked to load the bases. That brought up No. 9 hitter Hartley to face Mock. Hartley lined a two-strike hit to score two runs and gave Northeast its first lead.
Angelo Terrasi followed with an infield grounder, which scored Moeller from third. Chris Clark's RBI bunt single scored Hartley with the final run of the inning.
"I was just trying to put the ball in play," Hartley said. "A strikeout does us no good, so I've got to put the bat on the ball and at least make a productive out."
Seminole (10-10, 3-5) made it interesting in the seventh. The Warhawks had two on with one out thanks to walks, but Hale got a fly and a groundout to end the game.
"I pitched to contact," Hale said. "I didn't have my best stuff today but that was fine with the way our defense played."
As Northeast continued its habit of scoring late, Seminole continued to lose leads late. The Warhawks led 1-0 thanks to Jacob Silverstein's RBI in the third, but it didn't hold up.
"I'm still searching for that perfect recipe," Seminole coach Jeff Pincus said. "We're good enough to beat anybody, we've just got to put it all together."