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Freshman pitches East past North, 5-1

Johnny Wilson • Apr 12, 2018 at 9:44 PM

BLUFF CITY — A freshman making news on the varsity level is a big deal in any town, regardless of the sport. And Sullivan East's Luke Hale was ready.

Sporting only freshman-ball experience, Hale got his first varsity start Thursday and pitched his way to a convincing 5-1 complete-game win over Sullivan North.

East coach Mike Breuninger chose a non-conference game at familiar McKamey Field against the struggling Raiders (2-10) to give Hale his chance, and the debut went off quite well.

"He's thrown a few freshmen games for us and his last couple he looked pretty good," Breuninger said. "I decided just to give him a shot, and he did well.

"I think he might have been nervous at the start and had some control issues there early, but he was able to get out of those jams and I thought he was a little better later in the game."

Hale walked four batters and there was one East error and one North hit over the first two innings, but the Raiders could manage just one run.

"I think the first four innings there were five walks and one hit-batsman yet he only gave up the one run,'' Breuninger said. "So we escaped that right there."

Hale was prepared mentally.

"I kept telling myself to reset and compete," the 6-foot-2, 170-pound righthander said. "I had some good backup with the guys behind me."

Hale walked six and struck out five while allowing only three hits, two by Hunter Dingus.

"My fastball was coming in pretty hard and I was throwing strikes well,'' Hale said. "My slider was working good.

"I'm glad to help the team get a win in my first game on the mound."

NO STICK

North coach Steve Dixon tipped his hat to Hale.

"He did a good job," Dixon said. "He threw strikes."

But collecting three hits is no recipe for victory.

"We just left too many runners on base," Dixon said. "Both teams had roughly the same number of baserunners but they were able to get some runs in and we weren't.

"And we've got to change that. When we get runners on base we can't be striking out and popping up. We must put the ball into play and make the other team have to make a defensive play.'

North grabbed a 1-0 lead in the second inning on a bases-loaded walk to Braydon Wilhoit, but Hale induced a two-out infield pop up with the bases still full.

TIMELY OFFENSE

Losing pitcher Peyton Robinson and two relievers only allowed six East hits, but as usual the Patriots (11-4) were timely.

Hudson Standbridge followed a Brantley Ellis double with an RBI single in the bottom of the second to tie the game at 1-1.

East, which scored runs on sacrifice flies by Everett Hunt and Perry Casaday, got its big lift offensively when Eli Milhorn rocked a two-run double to help the Patriots assume a 4-1 lead in the fourth.

"He's got a nice left-handed swing and that's why we bat him in the 3 hole,'' Breuninger said. "That was a big hit for us and gave us some breathing room."

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