Isaacs fires no-hitter at Fred T. Foard
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
Hunter Isaacs was nearly perfect on the mound in Watauga's 1-0 victory Thursday over Fred T. Foard in the first summer league game played by the Pioneers.
Instead, Isaacs gladly took a no-hitter and a victory, Watauga's first win of the summer season.
Isaacs said he was aware he had a no-hitter, but did not want to jinx it by talking to anybody about it. Instead, he worked his curveball with his fastball, which both were thrown for strikes.
"They're a good hitting team and they have been all year," Isaacs said. "I had some good defense tonight and got a couple of strikeouts. It's a good feeling."
Isaacs was one pitch away from tossing a perfect game at Foard. It took a dropped third strike that allowed Foard's Harry Hatcher to reach base in the second inning of a game that was scheduled for five innings, but was extended to a sixth inning when the score after five was 0-0.
Watauga coach Pete Hardee feels that Isaacs is pitching with more confidence than he has at any point of his tenure with the Pioneers. He pitched eight shutout innings in a 4-3 win over Patton in the first round of the Northwestern Conference Tournament, and then followed by pitching 6 1/3 innings in Watauga's dramatic 8-6 win in 11 innings over McDowell in the first round of the state 4-A playoffs.
"He's been throwing with a lot of confidence," Watauga coach Pete Hardee said. "Against McDowell, he really wasn't in total command in the playoffs. That was probably his weakest start of this last three or four, but he's throwing the ball well and he's gaining confidence."
Isaacs retired the first five batters he faced before Hatcher reached base. Isaacs went on to send the next 13 Foard batters to the bench after Hatcher's at-bat.
"By the end of the game, it kind of hit me," Isaacs said of his near miss at a perfect game. "That one in the dirt kind of ended that, but I'm no complaining. A no-hitter's good. A perfect game would have been nice, but we played a good game tonight."
Isaacs also struck out 13 batters, but really feasted on the bottom of the Foard order. Of the bottom five Foard batters, who all but one each batted twice, Isaacs picked up eight strikeouts.
Watauga's defense also helped Isaacs by not making any errors. Mark Jackson, who played on the Watauga junior varsity during the spring season, made four of the nine plays in the field.
Isaacs was not the only pitcher putting zeros on the scoreboard. Foard's Austin Godfrey, who shut out the Pioneers during the spring varsity season, kept Watauga scoreless for the first five innings of the game.
"He's definitely good," Isaacs said of Godfrey. "He'll be their ace next year. He definitely pitched a good game and we were fortunate to get it done."
Watauga finally pushed a run across in the sixth after the two team's coaches agreed to add an extra inning to the game. Willis Ellis started the Watauga sixth with a single and was advanced to second by a Colby Illich bunt.
With two outs, Matt Lambert singled to right field, which drove in Ellis for the winning run.
"We knew that when we saw that Godfrey was pitching that it was going to be a close game because he's really good," Hardee said. "Several times we had runners in scoring position and we didn't get them in and that was disappointing, but we got a good bunt in the last inning by Colby that got us to second base. Then we got a big hit by Lambo to get the game winner."
Watauga finished with five hits, including a Utah Jones double in the fourth inning. Watauga left five runners on base.
Godfrey struck out seven and walked one.
WATUAGA 14, FOARD 4
Watauga banged out 11 hits and took advantage of five Foard walks in its victory in the second game of the doubleheader. The game was shortened to three innings because of the 10-run mercy rule.
Jones had three hits, including a double, and scored three runs. Lambert also had three hits and drove in five runs.
Levi Wilcox, who also played on the junior varsity last season, belted a two-run home run in the bottom of the first inning, which saw the Pioneers score 10 runs. Lambert added a two-run single to cap the rally.
Wilcox is battling to replace Carson Isaacs, who played middle infield for Watauga during the spring varsity season. Wilcox played second base in the second game on Thursday.
"In the second game, we swung the bats well," Hardee said. "It was against a guy who wasn't as good as Godfrey, but still, we swung the bat well."
Lambert, who started on the mound, gave up four hits combined in the first two innings, but settled down in the third inning and set the middle of the Foard lineup down in order.
He had two strikeouts, two walks and hit a batter with a pitch in the first two innings.
"It was like what coach Hardee said," Isaacs said. "We were going to face their ace in the first game, so we had to scratch out some hits. In the second game, we had to come in and hit the ball and that's what we did."
Watauga goes back to the field tonight when it plays Alexander Central.