Daily tosses gem, Hilltoppers win
In a night where East Rutherford ace Brok Helton struggled with control, hitting five batters, R-S Central's Conner Daily allowed only three baserunners and two hits Tuesday night in a 1-0 win for the Hilltoppers.
"[Daily] threw a whale of a game," Central head coach Chadd Fowler said after the game. "That's all you can really say."
"This is the top," Daily said when asked to rank this performance. "This a big game. This is the one you want to win."
Through the first four innings, Daily faced the minimum of 12 batters, allowing just one hit for the Cavaliers. Unfortunately, Central couldn't plate any of their seven baserunners though the first four frames.
Daily led off the fifth for Central with an infield single, moved to second on a Tyler Morgan sacrifice bunt and took third on a wild pitch.
Joel McDaninel came to the plate after Morgan and was Helton’s fourth hit batsman of the night to put runners on the corners with just one out.
A fielder’s choice from Lance Greene plated Daily for the first run of the night giving Central a 1-0 lead.
Helton struck out Dustin McEntire to end the inning, but the damage was done.
Daily finally allowed East another baserunner in the sixth when he walked Will Randall with two outs, but a well-hit fly ball into right from Tripp Hamrick found a Hilltopper glove and the 1-0 Central lead was preserved.
Helton hit another Hilltopper in the seventh and threw another wild pitch to allow the runner to get into scoring position, but the Central couldn’t capitalize.
Daily took the mound in the seventh in search of a complete game.
"His pitch count was low and that kid wants the baseball," Fowler said of his decision to stick with daily in the seventh. "He was throwing it great all night so it was a no-brainer."
"[Fowler] looked at me and asked if I wanted the ball and I said I did," Daily added. "He trusted me and I'm glad he did."
John Bennett reached on an infield hit to the shortstop to represent the tying run with one out and Jordan Strickland at the plate.
Daily struck out Strickland swinging for the second out and forced Chase Jenkins to ground out to end the game.
East head coach Bobby Reynolds had a simplistic explanation for his teams performance.
"[Daily] pitched good and we didn't hit," Reynolds said. "We got to hit."
Daily finished the night with seven strikeouts while Helton, despite the hit batters, nearly equalled Daily's night with nine strikeouts and allowing just four hits.
East returns to play Thursday night at Patton while Central welcomes Chase to Rutherfordton Friday night. First pitch for both games is set for 7 p.m.