Watson Chapel’s Zach Bradford turned in a complete-game gem on the mound Friday at the Billy Bock Classic as the Wildcats blanked host Pine Bluff 8-0.
Bradford (1-0) threw 109 pitches in the winning effort, scattering four hits, issuing two walks and striking out 12 to earn his first win of the year.
Bradford had an opportunity to remove himself from the contest in the sixth inning when Pine Bluff’s Larry Williams lined a shot off Bradford’s leg with one of the hardest hit balls the crafty left-hander surrendered during the game.
But Bradford shrugged off the blow and resumed his shutout performance.
“It hurt, but I took one for the team,” Bradford said. “My teammates did what they were supposed to do by putting runs on the board and I went out there and did my job.”
Bradford could have easily convinced Watson Chapel coach Chad Cope into a relief pitcher. But after a brief visit to the mound to check and watching Bradford throw a couple of test pitches, the decision was made without haste.
“He was right around 90 or 100 pitches at that point,” Cope said. “He wasn’t laboring or anything and I asked him. He said he wanted the ball so, hey, what do you say. He pitched a great game.”
Watson Chapel (4-2) jumped out to an early lead with two runs in the first inning and three more in the second off Williams, who struggled with his control early on. When he was in the strike zone, the Wildcats put the ball in play, collecting three hits and capitalizing on walks, wild pitches and a hit batsman.
Williams set the stage for the Cats in the first by walking the first three batters and Watson Chapel put together three hits to plate the three runs in the second, highlighted by Jordan Stargell’s leadoff double.
By the time Pine Bluff coach Greg Easter went to the bullpen in the third inning with left-handed Ryan Green, the damage was done.
Green was a bright spot for an otherwise miserable night for the Zebras. Green limited the Cats to three runs in five innings on eight hits and fanned four.
“He’s projected as our No. 1 guy,” Easter said. “He struggled a little in his first game against Bryant over there. But he came in and did a good job. He kept them off balance and changed his speed well.”
But the night belonged to Bradford and the Cats. Stargell provided the big spark for the offense that pounded out 10 hits with a two-run home run in the top of the seventh to cap the scoring.
Every spot in the order, with the exception of Bradford and R.J. McGregor in the ninth hole, recorded a hit. But Bradford did help his own cause with a sacrifice fly to plate the game’s initial run.
Landen Colson singled three times, Justin Dardenne singled and doubled and Wyatt Jones, Reece Huffty, V.J. Dickson and Jacob Owen all singled.
Karl DeWalt doubled for Pine Bluff to lead the Zebras at the plate while Adam Graham, Kendrick Bullard and Paul DeWalt each singled.
The Zebras dropped to 0-4 with the loss.
Bryant 10, Pine Bluff 2
Bryant scored five runs in the first inning and cruised to victory over Pine Bluff.
The Hornets added two runs in the second, two in the fourth and one in the sixth.
Pine scored its two in the sixth.
Dylan Cross had a career night at the plate with two singles and a double and six RBI for Bryant (6-0).
Jalen Dabner , Brandon Starks and LaDarius Washington each recorded doubles for the Z’s.
Nathan Rutherford picked up the win for Bryant. Aaron McDonald suffered the loss for Pine Bluff.