Brighton Hudson had everything working for him Thursday night as he and his Garner teammates faced off against Greater Neuse River 4A Conference rival Knightdale.
With assorted scouts looking on, the senior southpaw did little wrong with his assortment of pitches, baffling the Knights with fastballs, curveballs and change-ups while registering 14 strikeouts.
“He (Brighton) pitched great tonight,” said Trojans coach Derik Goffena. “He worked ahead in the count well, came up with 14 strikeouts, two walks and two hits.
“The main thing was, he was mixing all three of his pitches tonight for strikes: being able to throw them all in there for called strikes and swinging strikes - just excellent.”
And when Hudson wasn’t burning the ball past Knightdale’s batters, the Trojans turned up the heat with their bats, banging out 10 hits en route to a 9-0 victory.
Garner (6-3, 2-1 GNRC) took advantage of almost everything the Knights (2-7, 0-4) gave them. That included five errors by the Knights, along with two wild pitches, two hit batters and two walks.
Hudson was brilliant from start to finish, striking out the first five batters he faced, and seven of the first eight.
The only blip in that stretch was a two-out, second-inning single to right by Ronald Parham, but the Knights were unable to take advantage of the hit.
Logan Anderson reached on a one-out, third inning single to center. But Colin Pippen’s leaping grab of a liner to second and catch of a weak pop fly quickly squelched any hopes Knightdale had of a rally.
After that, Hudson fanned six of the next seven batters, the only blot in that stretch a lead-off walk to Parham in the fifth inning.
Parham was quickly erased attempting to steal, and Hudson handcuffed Knightdale batters the remainder of the night, issuing only a seventh inning walk.
“He didn’t actually have us off-balanced,” said Knights coach Andrew Vaglio. “We weren’t able to get ahead in the count very often. And when we did, we never could take advantage of the situation.”
Hudson, who raised his record to 3-1 for the season and lowered his ERA to 0.52, now has recorded 50 strikeouts with only nine walks.
The night did not belong to Hudson alone. The top of the batting order for the Trojans - Saylon Keift, Hudson and Cody Jones - combined for seven of Garner’s hits.
The Trojans touched Knights starter Jake DeShields for eight of those hits over the first four innings, building a 7-0 lead. DeShields had moments of brilliance, fanning four batters, but found himself in jams due to the hits while issuing two wild pitches and hitting a batter.
Garner took a 1-0 first inning lead on a leadoff single by Keift, who moved to third on a grounder and the first of Jones’ trio of singles. Keift scored on a a grounder by Dakis Brown. The Trojans loaded the bases on a single by Grayson Lee and a third strike wild pitch to Logan Torruella, but could not capitalize.
Knightdale gave the Trojans a pair of unearned runs in the second on a two-out, two-run single by Jones, after Garner opened the inning with Nick Gallogly reaching on an error and Pippen being hit by a pitch.
Gallogly, Pippen, Keift, Hudson and Jones delivered consecutive hits in a four-run fourth. Jones was 3-for-5, while Keift was 2-for-5 and Hudson 2-for-4.
“We got key hits early,” Goffena said, “Then two-out hits that got us a lead. And once we got a lead in the later innings we got hits that got us runs in key spots.”
“We’re still trying to figure things out,” Goffena said. “We have multiple players battling for the DH spot and a couple of other spots we’re rotating people around.
“Our pitching is continuing to get better, and offensively we are getting better. A little slower than we hoped, but it’s beginning to come around.”
Frank Silvestri threw the final three innings for the Knights, striking out five, walking two, hitting one while surrendering two runs on two hits.