Jordan Bissette offered no explanation for tepid-hitting Fuquay-Varina’s sudden offensive explosion in an 8-0 win Friday against Holly Springs other than a shot of rivalry adrenalin.
“We always seems to get excited for the Holly Springs games,” said Bissette, an N.C. State-bound pitcher whose contribution was a two-run home run in the Bengals’ six-run second inning. “We haven’t been stringing together hits, but we were really focused in batting practice for Holly Springs.”
When the teams met on March 11, Fuquay erupted for an 11-3 victory.
Friday’s game was a makeup from Tuesday’s rainout that took on added significance as the week progressed in the Southwest Wake Athletic Conference standings. The Bengals and Golden Hawks both lost Thursday and entered Friday’s meeting battling for fourth place in a conference with only four automatic postseason bids.
Fuquay had lost a third straight in SWAC play and fourth overall with Thursday’s 2-1 decision to Apex. Holly Springs dropped a third consecutive league game with Thursday’s 4-3 defeat to Athens Drive. With the victory, Fuquay moves to 7-8 overall and 4-4 in the SWAC. Holly Springs fell to 10-7, 3-6.
“It was two teams desperate for a win,” Fuquay coach Milton Senter said. “Somebody had to win and our kids responded well.”
Fuquay’s six-run outburst came after the Bengals had loaded the bases in the first inning with one out, yet failed to score. Winning pitcher Brett Daniels made sure the second inning wasn’t more of the same when he came to the plate with the bases loaded and one out.
Daniels, who is committed to North Carolina as a pitcher and third baseman, stroked a single that scored Justin Warren and Aron Ruble. Nick Yarbrough followed with a double to score D.J. Burt and Daniels. Bissette then blasted his two-run home run to straightaway center field.
“I’ve been working on curve balls in batting practice by sitting back and busting my weight through it,” said Bissette, a 6-foot-5, 185-pounder. “That’s the hardest I’ve hit a curve ball this year.”
Daniels pitched six inning and struck out eight. He had a no-hitter until Phil Simpson singled in the fourth and a one-hitter through five innings before he tired in the sixth and allowed two singles. Chandler Jones relieved him and recorded two strikeouts in a one-two-three seventh.
“I was hitting my spots early and then I let my defense do the work,” Daniels said. “My defense was strong.”
With two ACC-bound pitchers, the Bengals feel they can make a run in the playoffs if their bats come around.
“That’s been the case all year,” Senter said. “We’ve been in games, but this time we got the runs and a shutout.”