After watching his team drop 11 one-run losses a year ago, Capital High baseball coach Robert Massey could hardly stand it when his team dropped their first two contests of this season in one-run, walk-off fashion.
“I was thinking, here we go again,” joked Massey following his team’s game at Sissonville Monday evening.
Massey was in a joking mood because his team finally came away on the winning side of a close contest in a 3-1 win over the Indians.
Capital notched its first win of the season, against those two opening-day losses, while Sissonville slipped to 3-1.
“It feels good and it’s good for the boys,” said Massey of the win. “They need that lift and we all know that baseball is a pretty psychological game, and it’s a grind, especially in late May.
“We’ve got to learn to get over that hump and tonight was good start. Now we need three of four more of those and we need them against good AAA conference schools. That’s nothing against Sissonville, because they’re a great AA school, but we need to do it against good AAA schools.”
The Cougars were able to pull out the win behind a couple of clutch hits and a solid pitching performance by sophomore right-hander Brandon Thomas.
Thomas wasn’t overpowering, but used his fastball and sweeping off-speed pitch to keep Sissonville’s batters off balance.
Thomas tossed seven innings, with no strikeouts and no walks, while allowing just three hits.
“I just found what was working with my fastball and a little bit of off speed,” Thomas said. “I just pitched to contact today. I didn’t try to do anything special, I just pitched to contact and my teammates made every single play behind me. They did everything I could ask.”
Massey was pleased with his young pitcher’s performance.
“That’s what we want out of our staff,” Massey said. “We don’t flash and dash on our staff. We want our guys to work and keep the ball in play because we don’t have anybody that’s overpowering.
“I’d be willing to bet that we won’t have anybody that’s in the leaders for strikeouts, but our goal is to have leaders in ERA. If we’re not giving up runs, then we’re doing our jobs.”
Sissonville also received solid pitching from starter J.R. Stricklen and southpaw reliever Eli Mooney.
Stricklen worked five innings, allowing two runs and seven hits, with three strikeouts and four walks. Mooney worked out of a bases loaded jam in the sixth inning after taking over for Stricklen with no outs, and allowed three hits and run in the final two innings.
Capital shortstop Justin Palmer staked the Cougars to a 2-0 lead with an RBI single in the third inning and an RBI double in the fifth.
Third baseman Anthony Gavin added the Cougars’ final run with a solo homer to left in the seventh inning.
Indians Coach Kenny Harper was also pleased with his pitchers, but wasn’t happy with pitch location, especially with two strikes.
“All of their hits came off of 0-2 pitches,” Harper said. “We’ve got to get better at that and not throw meat right over the plate. We just can’t do that.”
Sissonville left runners on base in each of the final five innings, but couldn’t get the big hit it needed against Thomas.
The Indians were able to scratch across a sixth inning run, when Josh Landis doubled and came around to score on a two-out RBI triple by Dominic Walker. As second inning single by Jacob Fisher accounted for Sissonville’s other hit.
“He had us lunging for the ball and he kept us off balance the whole game,” said Harper of Thomas. “Our pitchers threw well too, but they hit the ball and we and we hit little dinks.
“We’d been hitting the ball real well and then today he (Thomas) had us off balance. I told the kids I didn’t expect us to go 32-0, so it’s going to happen.”