COPPERAS COVE — Charlie Folger earned the victory, but he gives an assist to his teammates.
Copperas Cove’s starting pitcher allowed just two hits and struck out eight batters en route to a 9-0 win against visiting Gatesville on Tuesday.
While Folger delivered the shutout, the Bulldawgs’ offense was responsible for increasing his confidence on the mound by scoring multiple runs in each of the first three innings.
“Getting an early lead was absolutely huge, and that is all on my teammates,” Folger said. “They did fantastic offensively, and it is nice as a pitcher to know you have that support and you don’t have to be so careful. You can play your game and not have so much pressure on yourself. That was good for the confidence of the team as a whole, and especially me as a pitcher.”
After Folger’s unassisted double play ended the top of the first inning, the Bulldawgs starting stringing together plays, scoring three runs in the first inning and two in the second before putting the game out of reach with a three-run third inning.
For Copperas Cove first-year head coach Dusty Brittain, the gameplan is to always score early.
“The top of our lineup usually sets the tone for us, and then we’ve got guys coming through for us and driving in runs when it really matters,” he said. “That is big time, and it is important.”
Hitting second in the lineup, Jayson Cole led the Bulldawgs offensively, going 4 for 4, including a triple, and accounted for three runs and an RBI. Teammate Kyle Winstead finished with two hits, two RBIs and scored a run.
Winstead got things going for Copperas Cove, hitting a double to score Cole in the first inning before Bryce Delano followed with a single to send Winstead across home plate.
In the second inning, Cole’s RBI triple scored Ryan Dorroh, then Cole increased the Bulldawgs’ lead to 5-0 off Winstead’s sacrifice fly to right field.
“I felt good,” Cole said of his outing. “I was just waiting on the ball, and did what I had to do for the team.”
Copperas Cove (3-2-1) practically secured the win in the third inning as Sevonne Spinks scored as a courtesy runner for Folger before Dorroh and leadoff hitter Tim Bechtold added to the cushion.
Meanwhile, Folger was imposing on the mound, striking out five of seven batters he faced during a streak spanning the second and third innings.
“I felt pretty good tonight,” Folger said. “I had a couple bad moments, and everything plays a factor in that. The weather (was drizzly), the ball was slippery, but that is no excuse, honestly. I felt like I did pretty good, so I was proud of my effort, and I was proud of my team’s effort behind me.”
Gatesville (2-3-1) posted a hit in the first and second innings by center fielder Mitchell Chartier and shortstop Seth Martin, respectively, and continually left players on base, stranding eight runners in the game.
While the stats indicate the Hornets struggled at the plate, Gatesville head coach Craig Keeton believes the two-hit total is deceiving.
“We’ve got to get better offensively, stringing things together,” Gatesville head coach Craig Keeton said. “We got behind early and just never could recover. … What we take away from this game is that our pitcher has to throw strikes, and sometimes you can hit the ball better than the boxscore shows. I think we hit the ball decent at times, but Folger did a great job.”