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Originally published: 2014-04-02 23:35:47
Last modified: 2014-04-03 16:30:04

Watauga powers way past Hickory

by Steve Behr Sports Editor

Watauga's baseball team discovered its offense Wednesday night in its 10-1 victory over visiting Hickory.


The Pioneers, who broke a four-game losing streak, hammered out three home runs against Hickory. Watauga finished with 14 hits overall, and claimed a 9-1 lead by the end of the third innings.


It was a sharp contrast to the lack of offense showed in a 6-0 loss to South Caldwell on Wednesday. The Pioneers faced a standout pitcher in left-hander Rian Haire, who scattered five hits and struck out nine.


Pioneers coach Pete Hardee said that although Hickory starter Paxton Taylor and relief pitcher Ethan Fleming were not as challenging as Haire, he was glad to see Watauga start hitting the ball again.


"It was good to see the bats to come alive," Hardee said. "Obviously it's not the same kind of pitching we saw last night, but still, we were effective today. Hopefully, this is a game that will turn us around. We were swinging the bat better."


Hickory's leadoff batter Joseph Sadowski actually hit the first home run of the game when he cracked a solo home run to put the Red Tornadoes in front 1-0.


But Watauga's Adam Greene belted a three-run home run in the bottom half of the inning to give the Pioneers a 4-1 lead. Greene said he was just following orders when he hit Hickory pitcher's Paxton Taylor's fastball over the leftfield fence.


"They were on the mound visiting when coach Hardee came up to me and said 'Just see how far you can hit it, Greenie.' Well, I'll just show him how hard I can hit it. That ball came in and it looked like a beach ball and I said 'I just might as well hit it,'" Greene said.


It was Greene's second home run of the season. He also had one in the season opener against A.C. Reynolds.


Greene said this home run felt really good from the moment he hit it, to the moment he cross the plate.


"Everybody came out and it was the best feeling in the world," he said.


Watauga's home run hitting was just starting. Pioneers' leadoff batter Jesse Illich cracked a two-run homer in the third inning.


Carson Isaacs added a solo shot in the sixth. He went 3-for-4 from the plate, including an RBI double that tied the game 1-1 in the first inning.


Matt Lambert, hitting ninth in the order, went 3-for-3 and scored two runs.

"We've been concentrating on swinging at strikes and take balls," Hardee said. "We did a better job of it tonight and hopefully it will be something that will jump start us and we can keep going on that."


Hunter Isaacs made sure Hickory's offense stayed silent despite walking six batters. Isaacs limited the Red Tornadoes to four hits and struck out five. Isaacs pitched 6 2/3 innings before Jeffrey Gainey finished the game on the mound by getting Walker Hanvey to pop out.


Watauga's defense, which has struggled in recent games, did not make an error Wednesday night.


"It was a tight strike zone tonight," Hardee said. "We had to adjust to the umpire. He threw more pitches than I wanted him to, but he actually felt stronger in the fourth and fifth than he did all night."


Watauga plays at St. Stephens on Friday night, weather permitting. The Pioneers also host North Davidson in a nonconference game Saturday.


Watauga 10, Hickory 1

Hickory           100 000 0  --  1   4 1

Watauga          432 000 X -- 10 14 0

Taylor, Fleming (1) and Brooks. H. Isaacs, Gainey (7) and Sauls. W--H. Isaacs, L--Taylor. LOB--Hickory 10, Watauga 4. 2B--Hickory, Calcagne. HR--Hickory, Sadowski; Watauga, Greene, J. Illich, C. Isaacs. SB--Watauga, J. Illich, C. Illich.