West Harrison has been — to borrow coach David Marsland’s words — the “walking wounded” of late with a number of starters dinged up or out of the lineup due to varying degrees of injuries. And yet, the No. 2 Hurricanes continue to win.
WHHS turned in a team effort Friday, capitalizing on runners in scoring position, utilizing a strong pitching effort from starter Cade Simon and minimizing miscues in the field to knock off visiting Pascagoula 7-3. With the win, WHHS (15-3, 4-0) swept the Panthers (8-10, 1-3) on the week.
“I don’t know how we keep doing it,” Marsland said after listing off a number of injuries his team’s currently facing. “There’s no quit in these guys. They’re going to battle and that’s all we can ask them to do.”
Simon turned in an efficient all-around game for the Hurricanes to earn his first complete game of the season. While he didn’t have overpowering stuff Friday, he pitched to his strengths to get West Harrison out of trouble on several occasions.
“I was just trying to hit my spots, let them put the ball in play and let my defense work. It makes it easy to throw strikes because I trust my offense to score runs,” he said. “... I was just mixing up pitches, changing locations and speeds.”
Simon finished with six strikeouts against nine hits, two walks and a hit batter.
WHHS third baseman Lawson Capers opened the scoring in the second inning with a deep fly ball to center field. The sacrifice fly scored Simon’s courtesy runner, Cody Gassman.
Capers’ bases-loaded walk in the fourth pushed West Harrison’s lead to 2-0.
Pascagoula avoided disaster in the frame, however, getting Gassman in a pickle between third and home. PHS starter Steven Mota then earned a big strikeout followed by a ground out to keep the Panthers within two.
Pascagoula’s luck ran out in the next inning, however, as the Hurricanes once again filled the bases. With reliever Griffin Gaunt on the mound, Simon helped his own cause with an RBI single. D.K. Donaldson followed it up with a two-run single of his own, extending West Harrison’s lead to 5-0.
“We’re hitting behind runners. When we need ground balls we’re getting ground balls. We’re staying out of double plays and getting key hits when we got runners in scoring position,” Marsland said.
“To me, if you’re a good team you do those things. That’s how you become a good team.”
On the scoreboard
Pascagoula got runners into scoring position in each of the third, fourth and fifth innings only to come up empty. The Panthers rectified things in the sixth.
After starter Matt Inlow led off the inning with a double and Jeffrey Sossaman walked, both runners advanced on a balk. Pinch hitter Gage Nyman took advantage of the runners in scoring position, delivering a double of his own over West Harrison’s right fielder.
Simon induced a ground out and strikeout to avoid further damage and keep WHHS ahead 5-2.
“We’re really struggling with getting that two-out hit and to win ball games you have to get the most two-out hits. We’re definitely not doing that right now,” Pascagoula coach Richie Tillman said. “We have to grow together as a team, pull together for each other and fight through this.”
West Harrison extended its lead in the sixth. After Pascagoula walked the first three Hurricanes of the frame, Kasey Donaldson drove a ball out to right field. It looked like the outfielder snagged the ball, but it turned out he dropped it, allowing Ephraim Patton to score. Tate Parker later crossed the plate on a delayed double steal to give WHHS a 7-2 lead.
Inlow tacked on a final run in the seventh with a hard hit double to center field.
Inlow led Pascagoula with a single, two doubles and an RBI. Landyn Gordon also added a single and triple. Simon recorded two hits and an RBI, while D.K. Donaldson added two hits and two RBIs. Capers recorded two RBIs, too.