Isaacs pitches Pioneers past Huskies
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
Watauga's Hunter Isaacs showed Ashe County's baseball team that he could hurt a team with his arm and his bat.
Isaacs was a Carter Calhoun single away from a no-hitter in an 11-0 Pioneers win over visiting Ashe on a chilly night at Pioneers Field. The game was shortened to five innings because of the 10-run mercy rule.
Watauga improved to 7-7, while Ashe slipped to 5-6.
Isaacs allowed the single to Calhoun, but got some revenge when Calhoun was thrown out by catcher Steadman Sauls trying to steal second base.
Isaacs also hit Jackson Sloan with a pitch, but retired the next final seven Huskies in order to close out the game.
Isaacs struck out three, and got some defensive help from shortstop Utah Jones, who had five assists and caught a pop fly for the Pioneers. Jones went deep in the hole to his left and threw out Joseph Lowder with a jump throw across his body to get the second out of the second inning.
"He threw a good game tonight," Ashe coach Ronnie Pruitt said. "We put the ball in play. We didn't strike out a lot, but they played great defense tonight. Utah Jones made some phenomenal plays at shortstop and that's the way the game goes."
Watauga coach Pete Hardee liked how Isaacs was able to pitch a complete game despite still probably nursing a pulled pectoral muscle. Hardee said Isaacs' mechanics were better, but could also improve, as Isaacs feels better.
"He did a good job tonight," Hardee said. "I think he's still recovering from an earlier injury, but, his mechanics are getting better. I'd like to see him throwing downhill more. He's still not getting over the front side. It shows on his curveball. It hangs a little bit and doesn't quite have the sharp break it usually has, but he's getting there. It's good to see him get a big hit as well."
Isaacs also delivered an RBI double in a four-run fourth inning. The Pioneers also got singles from Andy Critcher and Dylan Lawrence, and an RBI fielder's choice from Trevor Reep in the inning.
Utah Jones also proved to be a problem for Ashe starting pitcher Dalton Lyles. Jones belted a three-run double in the second inning that gave the Pioneers a 3-0 lead. Lyles walked Isaacs with the bases loaded, which put Watauga in front 4-0.
Jones also followed a Jesse Illich RBI single with an RBI triple that was misjudged in the outfield. He scored on the play when Ashe committed another error getting the ball in the infield. Lyles also walked three and struck out one, and Ashe made four errors behind him.
"We didn't play good defense, none whatsoever," Pruitt said. "That's why it was 11-0."
Lyles turned in a gutsy performance for Ashe County. He got through the first inning without giving up a run, but Watauga started to time Lyles better the rest of the game. He gave up eight of Watauga's 10 hits before being relieved by Michael Elliott in the fourth inning.
"He mixed his pitches well," Hardee said. "I was impressed that he came in there against a big 4-A school and he threw strikes. You could tell they've got a good ballclub. They're scrappy, they've got some good bats in that lineup and they got a good win over West Wilkes the other night."
Both teams return to conference games Friday. Watauga hosts Patton, while Ashe hosts Alleghany.
Watauga 11, Ashe 0 (5)
Ashe 000 00 -- 0 1 4
Watauga 043 0X -- 11 10 0
Lyles, Elliott (4) and Richie. H. Isaacs and Sauls. W--Isaacs, L--Lyles. LOB--Ashe 1, Watauga 7. 2B-- Watauga, Jones, Isaacs. 3B--Watauga, Jones. SB--Ashe, Calhoun; Watauga, Jones, Illich, C. Isaacs, Lambert. HBP--Ashe, Sloan (by H. Isaacs).