Fred T. Foard High junior Austin Godfrey is no stranger when it comes to winning baseball games. He was 5-2 as a sophomore last year on the junior varsity team, and he's brought that winning attitude to
Tigers (3-3 overall; 2-0 Northwestern 3A/4A Conference) at the varsity level this season.
The right hander scattered two hits and struck out a career-high ten batters as Fred T. Foard knocked off Watauga 5-0 Friday night in a NW3A/4A Conference game at Tiger Stadium in Newton, N.C.. He fanned eight of the last 14 batters he faced, including pinch-hitter Justin Greer in the top of the seventh to end the game.
It's Foard's second straight win at home against the Pioneers (3-2; 1-1). They beat WHS 8-5 in Newton last season. That win snapped a seven-game losing streak against the Pioneers.
"I'm always nervous when we play Watauga," said Foard coach Channon Vogel. "We've had big leads on them in the past, and they came back to beat us. We jumped on them for five runs in the first inning tonight, and it proved to be enough. But our bats died after that first inning."
The Tigers sent ten men to the plate and scored five times against losing pitcher Jesse Illich (1-1), who struggled from the get-go. The right hander walked three men and coughed up five earned runs on five hits in two-thirds of an inning.
Cason Bryant had a two-run single in the inning. His hard hit ball with the base loaded ricocheted off the glove of second baseman Matt Lambert and dribbled into left field. That blow gave the Tigers an early 2-0 lead.
A bases loaded walk to Josh Wike made it 3-0, and a two-run double by the No.9 hitter, Chase Wilson, gave the Tigers their five-run cushion. That blow also knocked Illich out of the game.
"Jesse had a rough start," WHS coach Pete Hardee said. "But we weren't ready to play. And that takes nothing away from (Godfrey). I tip my hat to that guy. He mixed things up and he had us chasing a lot of bad pitches. He had us so confused up there that we let a few go right down the middle. It was just a bad game all the way around."
Godfrey coughed up a lead-off double to Hunter Isaacs in the second inning, but left him stranded at second base. Godfrey struck out Lambert and Steadman Sauls before he got Clay Mizner on a pop fly to short to end the inning.
Illich had WHS' other hit, a two-out single in the third. Godfrey walked Carson Isaacs to start the fourth, but he wriggled off the hook, thanks to a great play by right fielder Ryan Campbell, who made running catch on Lambert's deep fly ball in the corner, that robbed him of extra bases.
And Godfrey left a runner at third in the sixth with one out as he got Carson Isaacs on a routine fly ball to left before he struck out Hunter Isaacs to end the inning.
"(Godfrey) just kept getting stronger as the game wore on," Vogel said. "He threw a great game. From the fourth inning on, the guy was just unbelievable. His arm got a little sore in the seventh, but he hung in there and got the complete game."
"I just got more confidence as the game wore on," Godfrey said. "The game plan was to make them chase my high fast ball, and it worked. This is a big win for us. We're 2-0 in the conference, and we're in first place."
The win leaves Foard in sole possession of first place in the NW3A/4A Conference. Bryant Zander Toy paced the Tigers with two hits apiece. The Tigers made eight hits Friday night.
Lost in the shuffle was a marvelous performance by Jeffrey Gainey. He came on in relief with two outs in the first inning, and he kept the Tigers at bay. He went 5.1 innings, he scattered three hits, and he struck out five.
"He did a good job keeping the ball down on us," Vogel said. "Our guys weren't really picking him up that well. He really silenced our bats. Fortunately, we got the early lead and Austin pitched a whale of a game for us."
"I'm proud of Gainey," Hardee said. "He did a great job keeping us in the game. But we just didn't play well tonight. I'm going to shake up the line up a bit tomorrow (at Charlotte-Providence). I'm going to find nine guys that really want to play."
The Pioneers will play a varsity-only game at Charlotte-Providence on Saturday at 2 p.m. Coverage begins at 1:30 p.m., on AM 1450, WATA and GoBlueridge.net.
NORTHWESTERN 3A/4A CONFERENCE
FRED T. FOARD 5, WATAUGA 0
HICKORY 2, FREEDOM 1 (12 INNINGS)
ST. STEPHENS 4, HIBRITEN 3 (8 INNINGS)
SOUTH CALDWELL 3, PATTON 2