The playoff run for the Hornets started with a 4-3 win on Friday night at Gipson field on the campus of Hudson High School.
The story of the Hornets season has been one of great pitching (the great), consistent defense (the good) and bats that have yet to wake up (the ugly). A season full of dramatic wins, depressing losses, and outstanding moments is now all but null and void. It doesn't matter. It's like it never even happened. Playoffs are here, so regardless of the dominant winning or awful losing a team brings in to the game, anything can happen on any given night.
Great pitching throughout the season continued on Friday night as Jesse Cravy went the distance in an extra inning, complete game effort. 8 innings pitched, striking out 15 batters, allowing 1 earned run, and only giving up 4 hits. The Hornets must be feeling good knowing Zack Pierce is headed to the mound for game number two. We really don't have a #1 and a #2 in the rotation, it's much closer to a 1 and 1a. If we pitch like we did tonight, we could be seeing many more rounds in our future.
Hudson has played consistent, reliable defense all year long. Entering the top of the 7th, the Hornets led 3-1, but Center was able to tie it up because of an error in right field that scored 2. That wasn't the only error of the evening though. The Hornets had an uncharacteristic 4 errors on the night. 4 errors on a night when the defense only had to make 9 out of the 24 outs because of the efforts by Cravy on the mound. Let's not be too worried though. The mistakes could have came on the road in situation that would be much more difficult to come back from, but it didn't. We shouldn't be worried, if anything we should be more confident. We won a game tonight despite suspect defense at times.
PS: This didn't really fit in the paragraph, but it should be noted the Kyle Lovelace threw out a runner attempting to steal second base, pretty typical. But not so typical is when he throws out a fast runner with 10 feet to to the bag when the ball landed in JT Penick's glove. Moving on....
Coming into Friday, Hudson averaged just barely 5 hits per game. Well, when you hit 200% better in one game, your odds of winning increase by a not-so-scientific 934.2%. Hitting came tonight from all over the place. Even more impressive was some of the contact being made that didn't land as a hit. Marco Gutierrez, centerfielder for Center, did his best Superman impression, not once but twice.
The unexpected hot streak from Zack Pierce continued, not on the mound, but at the plate. Yes, you read that right. A pitcher that hasn't had an at-bat in 2 years has hit 5/7, with 2 doubles and 2 RBI's over his last three games. Hunter Mayo hit a bomb to centerfield, that surprisingly Gutierrez didn't come to the rescue and snag out of mid-air. The ball didn't go out of the yard, but did hit the bottom of the 380 ft. fence in the air. Mayo went 2/3 overall and got pegged once.
Then comes in junior JT Penick. Coming in to the 8th inning, Penick was 0/4, reaching on an error in the 4th inning that drove in Zack Pierce. Superman had just came to the mound for Center, and Penick found himself down in the count 0-2. Next pitch. Connor Richardson steals third base on a ball low in the zone without a throw down attempt. 1-2 count. The curve ball driven to right field scored Connor Richardson and the Hornets claim game 1 of the series.
Let's recap. The great was great. The good was ugly. And the ugly was good. Hornets over Center, 4-3 in 8 innings.
*Game 2 and Game 3 (if necessary) will be played Saturday, May 7 at Center High School. Game two will begin at 1:00pm. A live broadcast will not be available due to coverage of the Lady Hornets Area Round match up in Lorena, beginning at 3:00pm. Updates of the Hornet baseball game will be provided via social media. @TheNestHudson