GARNER — Scotty McCreery lived out his dream Saturday afternoon, one of the dreams he had before he became an "American Idol."
McCreery played in his first varsity baseball game for the Garner Trojans, pitching the seventh inning of the Trojans' 8-7 loss to Fuquay-Varina, one of the area's best teams.
The senior right-hander's return to the mound - he last pitched in a 2010 summer league game against another Fuquay-Varina - was as impressive as his run last spring on the hit Fox TV singing competition.
He struck out the first batter he faced on three pitches, all curveballs. He coaxed a fly ball out of the second batter, then struck out another batter (who reached base on a dropped third strike) before getting a groundball to get out of the inning with no hits or runs allowed, and two strikeouts.
"It feels good just to come out here and just get back on the field," McCreery said. "I thought my curveball worked well. But today was just about the team. I'm glad to help out the team in any way possible."
McCreery was the 38th player to play in the non-conference contest between the two rivals. Both Fuquay-Varina coach Milton Senter and Garner coach Derik Goffena used the contest as a chance to go deep into their benches.
"The whole key for him is being able to throw the off-speed pitches for strikes," Goffena said. "Our goal for him is the same for everybody else, to see him perform well on the field. That was a good inning of work for him or anybody else."
The Bengals (4-0) led 8-5 when McCreery entered the game in the seventh. Garner closed to within 8-7 on a two-run single by Skylar Strickland in the bottom of the seventh. The Trojans (3-2) had the bases loaded with two outs and were a hit away from McCreery getting a win on the mound in his first appearance, but Bengals' closer Evan McNeill got Vince Jeffries to line out to Chris Williams at second base to end the contest.
McCreery was all smiles after the game, doing what high school baseball players do, lending a hand to rake up and cover the dirt around home plate.
"It means a lot to still be a part of this," McCreery said. "It's still playing with my friends, just being back home. I'm blessed to have this opportunity."
The Trojans return to action on Tuesday, visiting Clayton in their Greater Neuse River 4A Conference opener.