By Matt Nestor
The wind was swirling, making it nearly impossible for hitters and fielders alike. Combine that with the fact ace Ryan Scarpetta was on the mound, and it seemed as though nothing could go wrong for the Hononegah Indians in their bid for first place at Boylan High School.
And for the most part, things went well. Scarpetta struck out eight in a complete game and only gave up one earned run. But two passed balls and one big hit were enough for the Titans to scrape out a 2-0 victory to stay undefeated in NIC-10 play and take control of the conference race.
After holding the Indians scoreless in the top of the first, Boylan got off to a quick start with a leadoff double by Michael Morman. Then, a wild pitch to the next batter allowed Morman to move to third.
Scarpetta was able to get two pop-ups after that and seemed to be getting out of the inning OK. Then, Mark Garton singled for his only hit of the day to put the Titans up 1-0 early.
Titans errors allowed the Indians to move a runner into scoring position in the top of the second, but Titans pitcher Tyler Dray bailed out his team with two strikeouts to end the threat.
In the bottom of the second, things got rocky for Scarpetta again. He hit the first two batters with pitches, and Boylan prepared to bunt the runners over into scoring position.
The Indians made a nice play on the bunt to get the runner at third, and a rare batter’s interference was called, getting the Indians one out away from getting out of the inning.
Scarpetta made a good pitch to get a grounder to short, but there was an error on the play, and it gave the Titans another chance with runners on first and third. Then, another passed ball allowed the runner from third to score, giving the Titans the 2-0 lead.
While the Titans capitalized on the mistakes by Hononegah, the Indians could not do the same against Boylan.
The Titans had four errors in the field combined with four Hononegah hits. But the Indians could never gather any kind of momentum or rhythm and string the mistakes together.
Much of that had to do with Dray on the mound.
The Titans came into the season with no worries on offense. And while they liked their pitching, they were unclear if they had enough to compete with the likes of the top pitchers in the conference.
Dray has established himself as one of those top pitchers this year, with another masterful performance. He out-pitched Scarpetta all day, also throwing a complete game, but striking out 11 and only having one walk. He also had no control issues and came up with a big pitch every time the Titans needed it.
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From the May 5-11, 2010 issue