They say pitching is 75% of the game in baseball. And so far, the Watauga High baseball team has been perfect through its first two games of the season. Tyler Jones and Matt Proffitt followed Ethan Greene's
masterful performance on Tuesday night against A.C. Reynolds with a quality effort of their own on Thursday.
Those two combined on a three-hit shutout as the Pioneers (2-0) defeated Mount Tabor 3-0 at Charles E. Sapp Field in Winston-Salem, N.C. Jones, a left-hander went five innings, scattered two hits and struck out eight as he picked up his first win of the year; Proffitt, who came on in relief in the sixth, gave up a hit and struck out five as he picked up his first save of the season.
"I'm real proud of Tyler," said WHS senior David Martin, who has been behind the plate for both of WHS's strong pitching efforts. "Tyler didn't have a lot of confidence in his stuff during the off season. But he did a great job tonight, and he made some big pitches in key situations."
The Pioneers have been magnificent through their first two games of the year. The pitching staff has tossed 12 scoreless innings with four hits allowed and 23 strikeouts.
"We're playing with a lot of confidence right now," said WHS coach Pete Hardee. "Tyler did a great job on the mound. He had a couple of full counts and won those battles, and I really felt that was the key to the game. The only reason we pulled him was because of his pitch count. We didn't want to push him too far in his first start. It's still early in the season."
The Pioneers finally broke through in the fourth inning against losing pitcher Micah Wells, who had six strikeouts in his first three innings of work. Martin, who was 3-3 on the night with a stolen base and two runs scored, got things started with a lead-off single. A hit batsman, and a throwing error by Wells on a slow roller off the bat of Ethan Critcher loaded the bases with one out.
Martin came around to score on Tyler Shuford's ground-ball out to second base. It was Shuford's third RBI of the season.
"That was a good piece of hitting by Shuford," Hardee said. "He put the ball in play with men on base. Runs were tough to come by tonight, but we toughed it out and found a way to score. We've been patient and selective at the plate. It's fun to watch."
Leading 1-0, the PIoneers picked up some insurance runs in the fifth. And the rally came with two outs. Wells (0-1), who finished with nine strikeouts, gave up back-to-back walks to Ryan Turner and Martin. A passed ball moved the runners to second and third before Jones' delivered with a two-run single into right-centerfield for a 3-0 lead.
Proffitt settled the issue with a pair of scoreless innings. He gave up a one-out walk in the sixth before he closed out the frame with a pair of strikeouts; and he gave up a two-out single to pinch-hitter Matt Pasby in the seventh before he struck out Neal Callahan to end the game.
"I thought Matt threw the ball real well," Hardee said. "I thought he did a great job, and again our defense was their for us. It was a big night for us defensively and pitching-wise for sure."
The PIoneers will face their biggest challenge of the season Saturday, when they vetnure to Charlotte to play Ardrey Kell. The Knights (1-1) were ranked second in the state in the Class 4A ImpactBaseball.com pre-season poll. Our coverage begins at 1:30 p.m Saturday afternoon on Oldies 100.7 FM.
NOTES: Ethan Greene may get the starting nod Saturday against the Knights.....First baseman Clint Trivette suffered a hand injury and left the game in the fourth inning. He was replaced by Chance Richards. "We'll have to see," Hardee said. "I hope it isn't too serious. Hopefully, it isn't broken. It may have been dislocated a little bit. We hope to have him back as quick as possible. But Chance is a good defensive first baseman, and we feel good about having him there,".....The JV team (1-1) defeated Mount Tabor 5-1 Thursday night. Jesse Illich had a no-hitter before Andrew Kent broke it up with a two-out single in the seventh. Illich went the distance, gave up one hit, walked a man, hit three batters and struck out eight.
THURSDAY NIGHT'S GAMES
WATAUGA 3, MOUNT TABOR 0
ST. STEPHENS 13, BUNKER HILL 0
SOUTH CALDWELL 11, PATTON 6