RALEIGH — Brighton Hudson couldn’t put a number on the amount of times he’s done it in other leagues, but the Garner junior wasn’t able to wipe the smile off his face after throwing his first no-hitter of his high school career Thursday evening in a 3-1 win over Athens Drive.
“I had a lot of confidence going into this one, but you never expect this,” Hudson said. “It gave me a lot of confidence knowing that our team got some early runs and we were able to take some of the pressure off me.”
Hudson was able to use a fastball on the corners and found room inside for his breaking balls, which led to some soft liners for the Trojans. His outing was highlighted by nine strikeouts and five walks, but Hudson was able to get out of nearly every situation.
“The one run we gave up was unearned that just wasn’t executed properly,” Garner coach Derik Gofena said. “But it starts and ends with Brighton. He was around the plate all day … and kept them on their toes all day.”
Turning point: After a perfect first inning by both sides, Athens Drive starter Andrew Van Genderen did everything he could to get out of the second unscathed, but couldn’t escape a late inning error.
Skylar Stickland drew a walk and Levin Woodall hit a liner up the first baseline to start the second inning, an error allowed both to score on a soft grounder by Cody Jones with two outs. Van Genderen retired the next batter, but Garner took a 2-0 lead into the bottom of the second.
“That was huge for us,” Hudson said of his team’s offense. “We’ve been waiting until the later innings to score, and getting those runs early helps the pitching a lot.”
Putting up numbers: While Hudson’s no-hitter was the biggest reason the Trojans pulled out the win, both starters had success.
Neither Hudson nor Van Genderen gave up an earned run throughout a combined 11 innings pitched, but errors by both teams allowed runs to score. The Jaguars’ Mark Stallings was able to steal home on an errant throw to the plate after a throw down attempt at second, scoring the only run against Hudson.
“I thought we had several opportunities to put runs on the board, but both pitchers were able to get out of tough situations,” Goffena said. “But Brighton’s our ace, so we have high expectations of him. He’s a competitor and he kept the other team on their toes all day. That’s all you can ask for.”
Going forward: The biggest issue for the Jaguars was a simple one for Athens Drive coach Ryan Westbrook.
“Hitting,” the coach said jokingly. “When you get no-hit, you can only go up from there. We had some good at bats and had some hard hits, but they were all at people. At the end we just couldn’t scratch a run across.”
Westbrook admitted Hudson’s outing had a lot to do with his team not being able to string hits together, but felt the weather played a big part in his team’s preparation coming into the game.
“We’ve been doing a lot of work on our hitting because that was our weak spot last year,” Westbrook said. “But the weather has had a big effect on our practices. We haven’t been able to hit off of live pitching and that goes for our pitchers, too.”