By David Justice
May 9, 2017
When Garner hosts Cardinal Gibbons Friday in the second round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A baseball playoffs, Trojans coach Derik Goffena is looking for the same things he’s gotten all season from his young team that captured the Greater Neuse Conference title and produced a 5-4 first round win over Apex Tuesday afternoon at the new South Garner High School campus.
“With such a young team we’ve tried to keep things simple,” Goffena said. “We’re trying to score early, let our pitching keep us in the game, and play good defense. I guess those are things all team want to do. Sometimes youth can hurt you, but this group handled the situation of playing our first playoff game very well.”
Sophomore starter Brett Banks, junior reliever Chris Roddenberry, and freshman closer Nolan McLean did the mound duty against the Cougars and in round two Goffena expects a similar pattern.
“We could start any one of two or three guys and Roddenberry and McLean will both be available,” Goffena said. “McLean has really come on as our closer, especially in the second half of the season.”
McLean also starts the game at catcher and hits second in the lineup. He’s joined in the lineup by another freshman, second baseman Jackson Mitchell, who Goffena calls, “a difference maker on defense. He is fun to watch.”
Mitchell made several outstanding defensive plays, including two in the middle of the Cougars’ four-run fourth inning rally.
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