Garner had the chance to do something few high school baseball teams get Saturday afternoon: come back less than 24 hours after a tough loss and try to come up with a win again.
Typically, conference games come with three- or four-day breaks in between, but the endless winter and rainy weather has thrown most anything normal with high school sports scheduling this spring. Garner’s back-to-back outings against Clayton and West Johnston Friday and Saturday were a great example of that.
And it was an opportunity the Trojans took full advantage of, topping West Johnston 8-3, a day after taking a one-run loss to Clayton.
“That was the first thing we talked about from last night,” said Garner coach Derik Goffena. “It was just one of those games, a tough loss. We had to put it behind us because we were facing another good team today. I was glad to see the way we responded on the field today.”
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Garner jumped ahead 4-1 in the bottom of the first after West had gone up 1-0 on an Alex Mattes’ RBI single in the game’s opening half inning. The Trojans took full advantage of a dropped fly ball in the outfield with two outs by the Wildcats.
Saylon Kieft scored on the play and Dakis Brown reached base to keep the inning alive. Grayson Lee and Logan Torruella singled to load the bases before Brown came home on a wild pitch. Corbin walked to reload the bases and Pippen and Phillips drew walks to plate runs for the 4-1 advantage.
“We took advantage of the miscue,” Goffena said. “Our guys had some good at bats, drew walks and we were able to get a lead.”
West closed to 4-3 in the fifth on a Sterling Atkinson double that scored Tyler Tilson and Michael Blevins.
But the Trojans got a run right back with Torruella singling home pinch runner Brayden Sims to push the lead back to 5-3.
Garner loaded the bases again with one out in the sixth for Brown, who looped a single into the right field corner to score two runs. Lee followed with a single to left to push the lead up to 8-3.
Lee and Torruella had two hits on the night.
“You hate to point to one mistake but if we don’t drop a fly ball in the first inning, it’s a different game,” said West coach Joey Worley. “Thomas had to throw 21 pitches after that and that ran his pitch count up for the rest of the game. He’s at his best from his 70th pitch to the 90th and he was at that stretch a little early and got tired.”
Kieft got the win for Garner, working five innings with two earned runs and four hits allowed. Sidewinder Shane Ward pitched the sixth (coming on in relief with a runner on base) and seventh without allowing a hit to get the save.
“That was Salon’s third straight quality start,” Goffena said. “You have him throwing 85 (mph) and over the top and go to Shane coming in at 65 and with a side arm delivery. They were both effective today.”
West (4-2, 2-1) took its first conference loss after a pair of five-inning, 10-run rule wins. Garner evened its conference record at 1-1.
“Against good teams, we can’t have those mistakes that get us out of the way we want to play,” Worley said. “Being able to steal bases, and create runs. Garner came through with the two-out hits and put the ball in play.”