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Maybe, in the 2018 season, expecting the unexpected should be considered in Big East Conference baseball.
In the 3-A league with a signature for low-scoring, closely contested games, the opposite is occurring more frequently this season — including host Hunt High dismantling Southern Nash 19-0 in five innings on the Sid Boyette Field diamond Thursday evening.
“I didn’t expect this,” remarked Hunt head coach Jon Smith, “but I’ll certainly take it.”
“They made mistakes and we capitalized. The next batter for us was able to make them pay for their mistakes. Our baserunning was excellent. We haven’t been able to get outside to practice a lot, and we have spent a lot of time on baserunning. We are going to be aggressive and we are going to make mistakes in being aggressive. But it’s a good trait to have.”
Thus, the Warriors, posting a lopsided win against the Firebirds for the second time this week, stormed into their spring break as the Big East co-leader with archrival Fike at 4-0 and climbed to 9-4 in all games.
The Firebirds, with high conference aspirations, experienced a living nightmare in falling to 0-4 in the conference and to 5-8 against all foes. Head coach Todd Brewer’s club committed somewhat embarrassing mental mistakes defensively and on the basepaths. Six errors led to 12 unearned runs.
Hunt was limited to nine hits in its four at-bats but benefited from nine walks, two hit batsmen, five stolen bases, five wild pitches and a run-producing balk.
The Warriors scored at least two runs in each inning and plated seven in each of their last two at-bats.
On the mound, Hunt right-handers Tyler Wells and Gavin Huff, a freshman, limited the Firebirds to four singles. Wells worked 4 1/3 innings in notching his fourth win without a loss.
Smith divulged that the pitch count was a factor in lifting Wells in the fifth and added: “I wanted to get a freshman, Gavin Huff, on the mound in a night atmosphere, in a conference game when a whole lot could not go wrong. We are going to need him.”
Wells, who issued one walk and struck out three, did not allow a base runner beyond second base.
“Every since his sophomore year when I saw him throw in the outfield, I have tried to get him to pitch like he throws,” Smith explained. “It’s coming together for him and he’s able to locate more than one pitch. That’s helping him a lot. I’m proud of him.”
The Warriors struck for two unearned runs in the first, when the only hit was center fielder Hunter Barnes’ single.
In the seven-run third against Firebirds starting left-hander Colton Cruz and left-handed reliever Matthew Horrigan, Hunt got a two-run double from Dom Gaetano and singles from Tyson Bass and Josh Fuller.
As a pinch hitter in the fourth, Hunt’s Dallas Kemp batted twice, rapping two singles and driving in two runs. Pinch hitter Patrick Clark also collected an RBI single.
Coaches from both teams emptied their respective benches.
Both teams see action in the fifth annual Golden Leaf Invitational on Saturday with games in Fleming Stadium. Southern Nash tests Charles B. Aycock at 12:30 p.m., while Hunt goes against North Johnston at 5:30.
Score by innings:
Southern Nash 000 00 — 0
Hunt 237 7x — 19
WP-Tyler Wells (4-0) 4 1/3 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 SO. LP-Colton Cruz 2 1/3 IP, 5 H, 12 R, 3 ER, 5 BB, 3 SO.
LEADING HITTERS — Southern Nash: A.J. Jones 1-2, Leroy Edwards 1-2, Jason Montague 1-2, Jonathan Stallings 1-1; Hunt: Dallas Kemp 2-2, 2 RBI; Dom Gaetano 1-3, 2B, 3 RBI, 2 R; Hunter Barnes 2-3, 3 RBI; Tyson Bass 1-2, 2 R; Patrick Clark 1-1, RBI.