Heading into the baseball season, Cleveland coach Jamie Lee hoped his team would run up against Garner starting pitcher Brighton Hudson in one of the two non-conference games slated between the two schools in order to see how the Rams would respond to a challenge.
The Rams got their opportunity Tuesday night, but the senior hurler proved to be too strong as Hudson pitched a complete-game one-hitter and struck out nine batters as the Trojans cruised to a 13-0 win.
Hudson, who got stronger as the game wore on and struck out the final five batters he faced, didn’t need to be as sharp as he was for the Garner bats were finding holes.
Three days after the Trojans eked out a 3-1 victory at Cleveland, the Trojans’ offense rose to the occasion.
The Trojans took complete control of the game in the bottom of the second inning in plating 10 runs on five hits, two hit batters, two Cleveland errors and a balk.
“We hit the ball very well tonight,” Garner coach Derik Goffena said. “I thought our approach was better.
“Saturday, I felt like we hit some balls really hard and they made some plays. Saturday was definitely more of a pitchers’ duel but today some of the balls we were hitting were falling.”
Logan Torruella managed a pair of singles in the second inning alone as Garner sent 15 batters to the plate.
Dakis Brown drove in two runs with a single to right field and Stone Gulley’s double to the gap in right field also brought home two Trojans to help break the game wide open.
“That one inning just killed us,” said Lee. “We’ve got to keep our composure and we didn’t keep our composure tonight.”
Cody Jones also went 2-for-2 for the game and Nick Phillips concluded the scoring when his triple brought home Collin Pippen in the bottom of the fourth.
For Lee, it was easy to see what the difference was between Saturday’s close contest and Tuesday’s game that was called after five innings due to the mercy rule.
“Tonight, we just didn’t hit our spots and we got behind in too many counts,” Lee said. “You can’t pitch from 3-1 counts. We just had too many of those counts where they were just able to tee off on the ball.”
Alan-Michael Hales singled in the third inning, but would advance no further thanks to a Hudson strikeout.
Catcher Nolan Bailey doubled to right in the fourth but was similarly stranded after Hudson recovered to induce a groundball before recording the third out via another strikeout.
The Rams (0-3) stranded five runners on the base paths for the game.
For the Trojans (4-2), the increased offensive production is a welcome sign for a new crop of players.
“We lost so many guys from last year,” Goffena said of his team that lost its top seven hitters, No. 2 starting pitcher and closer from a year ago. “We have a lot of young guys stepping up. At this point, we’re really trying to focus on our pitching and defense and as the hitting comes along, we’ll progress.”