RALEIGH — Dominating pitching and hot bats – on a cold evening – led the Wake County Home School Warriors to a 15-0 rout of Wake Christian Academy on Thursday.
The win moved the Warriors to 3-0 on the season and was a continuance of the success from a season ago. Last year, the homeschoolers were invited to the Bobby Murray Invitational at the USA Baseball complex in Cary and they won the tournament.
They also finished second in the Home School World Series held just outside of Orlando, Fla. this past April. Home schooled teams from all over the United States compete in the event every year.
“We return eight juniors, who are now seniors, from last year’s team,” Warriors coach Warren Harvey said. “So we hope to have an even better season than last year.”
One of those returning seniors, Pat Goetze, started on the mound Thursday and dominated the three innings he was out there. He hit the first batter of the game, but settled down nicely after that. While facing just 12 batters, he surrendered two hits and struck out seven.
But perhaps the most impressive part was that it was only his second competitive appearance since March, 2012.
Just less than a year ago, the tall, slender, hard-throwing right-hander tore a ligament in his elbow, which required Tommy John surgery. After a long, extensive rehab, his return to the mound was a one-inning appearance this past Saturday in Greensboro. Thursday was his first extended outing since the operation.
“It felt good to get back last weekend,” Goetze said. “But I felt better today. Accuracy-wise I’ve still got a ways to go, but it’s getting better.”
Overcoming the mental challenge associated with an elbow injury for a pitcher can sometimes be more difficult than the physical hurdles. For Goetze, who says his velocity has returned to what it was before his injury, it boils down to trust.
“You have to trust your rehab,” he said. “You have to go out and pitch the same way you always have. It doesn’t matter what the score is or who’s hitting.”
Goetze wasn’t the only impressive Warrior to take the mound on Thursday. Neither Andrew Harvey nor Jake Ennis allowed a hit over the final two innings of the shortened game. The two also combined to strike out three, giving the trio of Warrior arms a total of 10 punch outs in just five innings of work.
“I thought our pitching was great tonight,” Harvey said. “Pat’s probably our only pure pitcher. Most of our other guys play other places as well. But we do have a lot of guys who can throw on this team.”
The homeschoolers’ bats were also active against Wake Christian. Jamey Meeker, Jon Rosoff, Will
Cunningham and Wade Laskey each had multiple hits in the game.
Meeker and Cunningham also drove in three runs apiece, while Rosoff, Ennis and Luke Harvey all added two RBIs of their own.
With all this pop in the lineup and strong arms on the mound, it’s no wonder Coach Harvey has such high expectations for his ball club.
“Our goal is to win the Home School World Series this year,” he said. “But like I tell the guys, we can’t rest. We have to keep getting better.”