CARY — Trevor Howard ripped three hits, getting on base four times in all, while UNC-Charlotte recruit Josh Maciejewski tossed 6 1/3 solid innings to lead Panther Creek to a 6-3 home-field win over Middle Creek Thursday afternoon in a Southwest Wake Athletic Conference game.
The Catamounts are now 6-1 (3-0 SWAC) after six straight wins, which is already one shy of the school record for a year.
Howard sparked a four-run second inning, getting hit by a pitch and scoring on Matthew Mitchum’s double to left in the next at-bat.
Howard also singled twice, doubled, stole a pair of bases and scored a valuable insurance run in the sixth frame.
“It felt good,” Howard said of his performance. “To lead off an inning three times and get on base each time gets a pitcher rattled.”
Maciejewski could have gotten a bit rattled himself after allowing a pair of consecutive singles in the second inning, with Middle Creek scoring on a successful double-steal. Zeke Barefoot crossed home plate for a 1-0 Middle Creek advantage.
He settled down to strike out Kiwane Garner to leave a runner stranded at second base, however. Maciejewski fanned eight batters in all, using an array of pitches – particularly a curveball and change-up – to keep Middle Creek’s batters off-balance.
Maciejewski credited the Catamounts’ offense for helping him get comfortable on the mound.
“Trevor with his big hits really helped me today,” Maciejewski said. “We all feel really good about the contributions we made.”
Panther Creek coach Daniel Hall was pleased with Maciejewski’s performance and poise.
“This was his first start of the season since coming back from the basketball season, and so he worked on a few things for the first few innings,” Hall said. “But we felt good about today and expect Josh to be better each time out from this point.”
Maciejewski had plenty of offensive support as Drew Juliano lashed a run-scoring double to center and Michael Harr added an RBI single for the Catamounts in the second inning.
Harr was at it again in the fifth with another run-scoring single as Panther Creek built its lead to 6-2.
Justin Hagenburg pounded an RBI double in the fifth for Middle Creek (3-3, 1-2), and Barefoot clubbed a run-scoring triple in the seventh as the Mustangs, in their first season under new coach Wesley King, tried to mount a comeback.
Patrick Morton came in relief of Maciejewski and recorded a pair of ground-outs to end the contest.