Nick O’Berry made a successful return to the starting rotation on Thursday, and the Callaway Cavaliers improved to 5-1 with a 6-3 victory over the Sandy Creek Patriots.
O’Berry, a senior, had pitched three innings coming into Thursday’s game, but he’d yet to start a game.
O’Berry had offseason shoulder surgery, and head coach Dusty Hubbard has been bringing him along slowly.
Hubbard figured Thursday was the right time to get O’Berry a start, and the left-hander responded by throwing three shutout innings.
“Nick did a great job,” Hubbard said. “We extended his innings to three. I thought he looked really good on the mound.”
O’Berry threw 51 pitches, and Hubbard said three innings was “as far as he was going to go. His stuff looked crisp.”
Sandy Creek was trailing 3-0 when it scored three runs in the top of the fifth, with Jared Jackson tying the score with a two-run home run.
The Cavaliers answered with two runs in the fifth inning to reclaim the lead, this time for good.
Cody Mimbs gave up the game-tying home run, but he pitched a scoreless sixth and seventh inning to get the win.
Hubbard was happy to get the victory, but he wasn’t pleased with the number of players the team left on base.
“We’re doing a great job of getting guys in scoring position. But you have to do a better job of getting them in,” Hubbard said. “I think we’ve hit one (home run) all year. We have to scrap. And when we get guys in scoring position, you have to score them. Whatever it takes to get the job done, we have to do it. We’re not doing as good as job as we need to with people in scoring position.”
The Cavaliers had a chance to take a big early lead when they loaded the bases in the bottom of the second inning.
Mimbs walked, and Cortney Laye and Perry Keith followed with base hits to load the bases.
Dylan Johnson then reached on an infield single to drive in a run, and the bases were still loaded with no outs.
The Cavaliers didn’t score again in the inning, though.
“We had the bases loaded and no outs, and you get one run,” Hubbard said.
The Cavaliers manufactured a pair of runs in the third inning without getting a hit.
Austin Garrett and Chase Freeman both walked, and Garrett later came home on a double steal.
Freeman scored on a wild pitch to push the lead to 3-0.
Terry Godwin entered the game in relief in the fourth inning, and he set the Patriots down in order, with Garrett making a terrific play at shortstop for the third out.
Perry Keith was hit by a pitch leading off the fourth inning, and he was stranded after making it to third with one out.
The Patriots then plated three runs in the top of the fifth to tie it.
The Cavaliers answered in their half of the fifth.
Garrett led off the inning with a single, and O’Berry followed with a fly ball that sailed over the head of the left fielder’s head for another hit.
Garrett came in to score on a wild pitch, and Freeman’s sacrifice fly brought in another run, and it was 5-3.
The Patriots got the leadoff runner on in the top of the sixth, but the Cavaliers turned a double play.
Garrett fielded the ball, he tossed it to Keith at second base for the first out, and Keith whipped it to Laye at first base for the double play.
The Cavaliers added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth.
Godwin led off with a double, but he was thrown out at third attempting to steal.
C.J. Gallatin then walked, and two batters later, O’Berry came through with a two-out single to bring in courtesy runner Devin Brock to cap the scoring.
Mimbs gave up a leadoff single in the seventh, but he retired the next three batters to end it.