Talk about bad timing, the Watauga High baseball team reverted back to its old ways on Tuesday night against arguably the best team in the Northwestern 3A-4A Conference. In turn, left hander Jordan Fulbright tossed a four-hit shutout as Fred T. Foard blanked the Pioneers 4-0 in a NW3A-4A Conference game at Pioneer
With the win, the Tigers (9-4 overall; 8-1 NW3A/4A), who have won three in a row and seven out of eight, maintained their grip on first place in the conference standings. It's also the first time the Tigers have swept the season series from WHS (6-8; 4-5); it's also the first time the Foard has won in Boone since the team became conference rivals in 2009-10.
The Tigers are 1-6 lifetime against the Pioneers on the road. And the Pioneers, who fell into fifth place, suffered a huge loss in game one of a three-game homestand.
"It's nice to finally get a win here," said Foard coach Channon Vogal. "We've had some real competitive games with them over the years. They always seem to play us tough. I thought we had them a couple of times in the past, but they always found a way to come back. Jordan did a heck of a job holding them down, but Watauga, especially against us, always seems to get the bats going late."
It's the second time Foard has blanked WHS this season. The Tigers beat WHS 5-0 in Newton on March 14. It was also WHS' fourth shutout loss of the season.
The Tigers scored all the runs they needed in the top of the first. A pair of WHS miscues, and a run-scoring single by Austin Godfrey gave the Tigers a 2-0 lead. But losing pitcher Utah Jones
(1-4), who suffered his fourth consecutive loss, kept the Tigers in check before they finally put the game out of reach in the sixth.
"(Jones) really held us down after that first inning," Vogal said. "They got off to a slow start, but they regrouped and kept it close. We finally got a couple of runs to pull away late."
Jones finally left the game trailing 4-0 and with outs in the sixth. He coughed up four runs, two earned, on 14 hits and he struck out five. The Tigers, who pounded out 15 hits, left 11 men on base, including six in scoring position. They also hit into a double play and lost a runner at the
Shortstop Matt Ward was 2-4 with a double, an RBI, and a run scored; Carson Bryant was 4-4 with an RBI; Fulbright helped his own cause going 3-4; Godfrey was 3-3 and drove in a run.
"They put it all together," WHS junior Hunter Isaacs said. "They made some big defensive play, and (Fulbright) kept us off balance. He moved the ball around, and his pitches came up on us quick. We hit the ball pretty well on him at times, but a couple of those went foul."
"We've got two seniors on the mound, and those guys (Fulbright and Godfrey) have shut people down, especially in conference play," Vogal said. "I think the most runs we've given up all year in a league game is two runs. It's a big win in a tough place to play. Eight and one in the conference, it feels good."
Fulbright struck out 12, and was practically unhittable for a majority of the game. But his defense bailed him out on a couple of occasions. Left fielder Chase Wilson made the play of the night when he went deep in the left-center field gap and robbed Jones of extra bases in the sixth inning.
Jesse Illich was WHS' most productive hitter going 2-3 with a pair of singles. Jones had a double; Hunter Isaacs had an infield single in the seventh.
The Pioneers take on Ashe County tonight in a non-conference game at Pioneer Field. Hunter Isaacs will get the starting nod for WHS. Coverage begins at 6 p.m. on AM 1450, WATA and GoBlueridge.net.
NORTHWESTERN 3A-4A CONFERENCE
FRED T. FOARD 4, WATAUGA 0
SOUTH CALDWELL @ PATTON, PPD (rescheduled for tonight)
HICKORY @ FREEDOM, PPD (rescheduled for tonight)
HIBRITEN @ ST. STEPHENS, PPD (rescheduled for tonight)
WATAUGA 1, FRED T. FOARD 0
ST. STEPHENS 5, HIBRITEN 1
HICKORY 1, FREEDOM 0
FRED T. FOARD 12, WATAUGA 1
WATAUGA 8, FRED T. FOARD 0