Bison blank Bulldogs in opener
It took a few innings for the offenses to get warmed up, but the pitchers were ready to go from the outset.
The three pitchers for High Point Central combined for 17 strikeouts while the offense scored all three of its runs in the fourth and fifth innings — highlighted by back-to-back triples in the fifth — to beat Trinity 3-0 in both teams’ season-opener Thursday at Central.
“I thought it was great,” Bison coach Ken Morgan said. “Anytime you can get a win early, it’s always a positive. Offensively, we struggled early. Their lefty did a good job — just enough to keep us at bay. The first three innings we just had one hit. ...
“I was a little disappointed in that because I thought we were a little more prepared. But he did a good job — tip your hat to him. Overall, though, our pitching was good — that’s what we’ll rely on a lot of the year — and our offense is going to come around.”
Trevor Gay picked up the win for Central in relief of starting pitcher Hansen Butler. Gay struck out nine in 3 1⁄3 innings while Butler struck out seven in 2 2⁄3 innings. Ryan Kahny also had a strikeout in the final inning, as the Bison limited the Bulldogs to four hits.
Butler and Gay also keyed the offense in the middle innings. Butler led off the fourth with a walk, reached third on a sacrifice bunt and fly-out and scored on an errant throw down the line. The next inning, Tyler Wilson and Gay then hit triples to deep left-center to plate two runs.
“It felt really good,” Gay said of the team’s strong pitching performance. “We came in and basically shut them down. That’s how we hope to do it all year long. And then Ryan came in and did really well too.
“The lefty (for Trinity), he was kind of crafty. He wasn’t overpowering or anything — we just had to get on the board. The first few games are always tough to get back into it, but we’ll come around. ... (The triple) felt good. You don’t see back-to-back triples very often.”
Bryce Lance, the left-handed starter for Trinity, struck out five in a strong outing but took the loss in 4 1⁄3 innings, as he and reliever Matt McQuaige held Central to just four hits as well — and only the triples were really hit hard.
Leadoff hitter Tyler Sweeney went 2 for 3 to lead the offense for the Bulldogs, who struggled with 11 strikeouts looking and only tallied Sweeney’s two singles in the early innings before they finally roped back-to-back singles in the seventh.
“Defensively and pitching, I felt very good about it,” Trinity coach Rob Shore said. “Anytime you hold a big 4A school like High Point Central to only three runs, then we’ve done our job defensively and on the mound. At the plate is where we struggled. I’ve got some inexperienced guys, and you’re not going to see arms like that every night.
“What I was disappointed in was our watching third strikes. Striking out’s one thing but consistently watching the third strike go by was what bothered me the most. It’s our first game, and you see guys throwing 86, 87, 88 miles an hour, it’s a little tough on you to get your timing down. But overall I felt like we’re walking off the field a better team than when we walked on.”
The Bulldogs play again Saturday at 1 p.m. against East Davidson while the Bison open Piedmont Triad 4A Conference play Tuesday at home against East Forsyth at 6 p.m.