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Raasch's 11 Ks leads Norcross to win

Photo: David McGregor  Norcross pitcher Chris Raasch delivers a pitch during the 4th inning of his complete game shutout against North Gwinnett on Friday afternoon in Suwanee. The Blue Devils beat the Bulldogs 4-0

Photo: David McGregor Norcross pitcher Chris Raasch delivers a pitch during the 4th inning of his complete game shutout against North Gwinnett on Friday afternoon in Suwanee. The Blue Devils beat the Bulldogs 4-0

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Photo: David McGregor Norcross pitcher Chris Raasch reacts after striking out a North Gwinnett batter during the Blue Devils 4-0 victory over the Bulldogs on Friday evening in Suwanee.

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Photo: David McGregor Norcross' Andrew Gray (10) slides under North Gwinnett's Noah Ford in the fifth inning of the Blue Devils 4-0 win over the Bulldogs on Friday night in Suwanee.

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Photo: David McGregor Norcross' Tanner Maloof lays down a bunt single in the fifth inning of the Blue Devils 4-0 victory over North Gwinnett on Friday evening in Suwanee.

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Photo: David McGregor Norcross first baseman Kevin Cosola stretches for the out as North Gwinnett's Justin Moran tries to reach base on Friday night in Suwanee.

SUWANEE -- Things have been tough this week for Norcross pitcher Chris Raasch.

After learning of the death of a friend and future roommate at Vanderbilt University next year, Raasch had to take the mound Friday in a key Region 7-AAAAA game at North Gwinnett.

Raasch responded by pitching a complete game, allowing four hits and striking out 11 as the Blue Devils shut out the No. 9 Bulldogs, 4-0.

"Chris dealt with an unfortunate situation this week," said Norcross head coach Jonathan Wyman. "He used that and pitched for more than himself. The one thing that's gotten him through all of this was his faith in Christ."

After struggling early in the bottom of the first as runners were on second and third with one out, Raasch settled down and struck out the next two batters to end the inning.

From there, the senior only allowed two more hits the rest of the way, although two extra Bulldogs (14-4, 8-2) reached base on errors.

"Everything was working for him," Wyman said. "He's had some tough losses this year, but he's continued to have the desire and motivation to do well, and it shows. He'll succeed on the next level. There's no doubt in my mind about that."

The Blue Devils (7-10, 3-7) got on the board in the top of the fourth when Joseph Wilber scored on an RBI single by Kevin Cosola. Norcross would have added a second run in the inning on a sacrifice fly by Zack Jones, but Raasch left the third-base bag too early, getting forced out at third after he crossed home.

Still, that didn't faze him as he went out and withstood two errors by third baseman Jasconel Ferreras, thanks to a runner caught stealing and a strikeout.

Then, Ferreras made up for those two errors in the fifth inning as he laced a two-run double down the left-field line to score Zach Shirah and Tanner Maloof, giving the Blue Devils a 4-0 lead.

"That was clutch of Jasconel," Wyman said. "He made two errors in the previous half inning and then came back to hit a two-run double. That's team baseball and not making it about yourself."

In the last three innings, Raasch gave up the other two hits, but also struck out four and got a game-ending double play in the seventh to shut the door on the Bulldogs.

Although the Blue Devils are currently out of the playoff picture, Wyman sees no reason why his team can't make the playoffs as his team is only a game-and-a-half out of the playoffs with Mountain View and Collins Hill ahead of them for the fourth spot.

"We'll need some help, but anything can happen," he said.

Michael Haynes picked up the loss for North as he went five innings, striking out two.