There's always a bright side to everything. Just ask Hickory High baseball coach David Craft. His baseball suffered anothe rloss at Watauga Wednesday night.
The bad news, the Pioneers blasted the Red Tornadoes 10-1 snapping a four-game losing streak. The good news. Craft, who is winless at WHS since the schools became Northwestern 3A-4A Conference rivals in 2009-10, won't have to see Pioneer Field for another year.
The Pioneers (5-7 overall; 3-4 NW3A-4A) pounded out 14 hits in the win. Matt Lambert, who batted ninth, lead-off man Jesse Illich, and WHS' hottest hitter Carson Isaacs, who's hitting .487, did the bulk of the damage. Those guys combined produced nine hits and drove in six runs.
Lambert was 3-3 and scored twice; Illich was 3-4 with a two-run homer, two runs scored and a stolen base; Carson Isaacs was 3-4 with four RBI. He was also a triple shy of hitting for the cycle. And the Pioneers didn't make any errors. They had made 16 errors in their last three NW3A-4A games.
Illich and Isaacs jump-started WHS in the first inning. After a lead-off home run by Joseph Sadowski gave Hickory a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, the Pioneers erupted for four runs in the bottom of
A lead-off single by Illich, a stolen base, and an RBI double by Isaacs tied the game at 1-1. A three-run homer by Adam Greene, his second of the season (he's tied with Carson Isaacs for the team lead) gave the Pioneers a 4-1 lead and they coasted home from there.
But despite the lopsided win, WHS coach Pete Hardee remains cautiously optimistic.
"We've been stressing swinging at strikes in practice," he said. "I want us to be aggressive at the plate, but we're still chasing some bad pitches. Tonight, at least for one game, we got our offense going. It was nice to see. That's Watuaga baseball. Now, can we continue to do it."
The win moves WHS into a fifth-place tie with Hickory. Both teams trail Hibriten (4-3 NW3A/4A) by one game for fourth place.
And the Pioneers, who had only 13 extra base hits on the year coming into Wednesday night's game, had four against the Red Tornadoes (5-6; 3-4), including three home runs.
"I really want to thank coach Hardee for sticking with me," Hunter Isaacs said. "He worked on my swing a little bit and changed some things. It's been frustrating for me and the team. But it's baseball. It's a game of losing and failure. But we're not giving up. That's the mentality of this team."
And Hunter isaacs (2-1) displayed that attitude on Wednesday. He got the startting nod and picked up the win. The right hander went 6.2 innings and gave up an earned run on four hits with five strikeouts. But he also walked seven men. Hunter Isaacs also had his most productive game of the season at the plate going 2-4.
"He made more pitches early in the game than I wanted," Hardee said. 'But he toughed it out. And a pitcher needs to do that sometimes. Things aren't always going to go your way, so you've got to suck it up. He battled out there and carried us into the seventh inning."
In turn, the Red Tornaodes, who have lost three in a row, left ten men on base, six in scoring position. Hickory has also been pretty generous on the mound, giving up 21 runs in its last two games.
"We always seem to play much better when it starts to warm up," Hardee said. "We haven't had too many outdoor practices lately with all the weather issues. But we looked good tonight. Now, can we start turning things around. Hopefully, this is the game that gets us started."
"We're not the best team out there, but when we put things together like we did tonight, we can be pretty good," Hunter Isaacs said. "A night like this is fantastic. We played as one. It's a good start for us. We really needed this game to get us going. It was the same thing last year."
The Pioneers travel to St. Stephens Friday night. Matt Lambert (1-0) gets the starting nod. Coverage begins at 6 p.m. on Classic Hits 100.7 FM and GoBlueridge.net.
NOTES: Hickory won the junior varsity game, 5-3....The Red Tornadoes, with Wednesday's loss, are 0-5 at WHS.....A correction. It was reported the Pioneers would play at home Friday against Fred T. Foard. The Tigers come to town next Tuesday, April 8. WHS, weather-permitting, travel to St. Stephens on Friday night.....North Davidson comes to town Saturday afternoon. The JV game begins at 12 noon; the varsity game starts at 2 p.m.
Northwestern 3A-4A Conference
Fred T. Foard 6-1; 7-4
South Caldwell 5-2; 10-2
Patton 5-2; 9-4
Hibriten 4-3; 6-6
Watauga 3-4; 5-7
Hickory 3-4; 5-6
St. Stephens 2-5; 3-7
Freedom 0-7; 4-8
Watauga 10, Hickory 1
Draughn 18, Freedom 3, 6 inn.
E. Burke 6, Patton 5
Alexander Central 8, St. Stephens 6
Watauga 9, Hickory 1
Hickory 2, W. Iredell 1
Kings Mountain 6, W. Lincoln 0