05/31/09 — Right-hander 'Mo'ws down Knights' batters

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Right-hander 'Mo'ws down Knights' batters

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on May 31, 2009 2:00 AM

RED OAK -- The buzz around the Northern Nash ballpark wasn't about the final score or the Knights' inability to escape another Wayne County team in the regional finals.

The skinny was about Zack Mozingo.

"A freshman beat us?" quipped one Northern supporter as she walked between cars in the parking lot.

Other Knights fans shared her sentiment.

"He was a good pitcher," said an unidentified Northern supporter as he loaded his chair into the back of his SUV.

Yep, a freshman jousted the Knights in the biggest outing of his prep career.

With a delivery slicker than a used car salesman, Mozingo foiled Northern's batters all evening long with an arsenal of off-speed pitches. The soft-spoken right-hander threw a complete-game, three-hitter and propelled Eastern Wayne into its first state baseball championship series in two-plus decades.

"He did a great job of keeping our hitters off balance," said Northern Nash head coach Eddie Loesner. "He mixed his pitches and threw all of them for strikes. He didn't pitch like a freshman."

No kidding.

Mozingo threw 10 pitches or less in three of the first four innings and allowed just three base runners. Mozingo logged four first-pitch outs and faced just one 2-2 count during that stretch.

Northern Nash (18-9 overall) pushed across a second-inning, unearned run, but never advanced past second base the rest of the night. The Knights had just six base runners total and one was erased on a fourth-inning double play.

Mozingo posted six first-pitch outs and threw first-pitch strikes to 18 of 26 batters he faced. Overall, Mozingo threw 80 pitches, including 56 strikes in the 96-minute contest.

"Zack threw great," said Eastern Wayne catcher Cambric Moye. "He kept his change-up down, kept his fastball down ... everything was working. It gives the infield confidence when he's throwing strikes, getting ground balls for everybody."

Mozingo, in his third playoff start, coaxed the Knights into 10 ground-ball outs, four flyouts and five strikeouts. The remaining two outs occurred on fielder's choice plays.

It was the second consecutive complete game thrown by a Warrior hurler in the playoffs. Josh Frederick threw seven solid innings in a regional-opening win over the Knights on Thursday.

"The coaches just said to 'keep the ball low, Mo' and that's what I tried to do," said Mozingo. "I was glad we got on the board before they did and when Bric hit the home run, I knew we could keep the lead.

"I didn't have to worry about my spots as much, but I still needed to keep it down."

Northern Nash outscored its opposition 27-1 during its first four playoff contests. However, the Knights manufactured just six runs against the Warriors, including one run in the final 10 innings.