Home Sports Isaac Handcuffs Patriots, Watauga in Runaway, 8-1

Isaac Handcuffs Patriots, Watauga in Runaway, 8-1

By David Rogers. March 16, 2015. BOONE, NC — Watauga senior Hunter Isaacs simply overpowered Freedom on Monday in the Pioneers’ 8-1 win over Morganton-Freedom on Monday at the Watauga baseball complex. Isaacs limited the Patriots to just two hits over the seven-inning contest.

Featuring a top of the batting order that managed to hit or walk get on base in 9 out of 12 at-bats among their first three batters, Watauga

Pioneer second baseman Justin Greer walked three times in four at bats, scoring each time he got on base (3 runs) largely in front of 3-4 hitting by third baseman Matt Lambert, who smacked two RBI doubles on the evening.

Shortstop Utah Jones cracked two doubles and scored two of Watauga’s runs.

“It was a good win,” Watauga head coach Pete Hardee observed to Blowing Rock News later in assessing his team’s performance, “and one of those conference games where if you let them hang around, then it becomes a dogfight. But we got after it and got a good early lead.

Hunter Isaacs is on fire.

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Like Hunter Isaacs on the mound for Watauga, the western sky was seemingly on fire, too — an added bonus for Sarah Patton of the high school yearbook staff.

“I feel like our bats were still not quite as on tonight as they need to be,” Hardee added, “but we had a couple of days off this weekend with the weather on Saturday and Sunday off, as usual. Our timing was a little off in batting practice before the game today, but with getting a practice in again tomorrow, I think we’ll be ready to go again on Wednesday.”

In assessing individual players, Coach Hardee noted, “I felt Hunter (Isaacs) was strong tonight coming off of the earlier complete game (vs. St. Stephens). Of course in high school you get pretty much a week’s rest, but he was strong again tonight, which shows good for his stamina.

“Utah Jones is looking better and better at shortstop,” Hardee continued. “Batting right-handed he had two big hits for us early on, but what was really impressive is that he looked as smooth at shortstop as you can possibly look. That’s going to be good for us.

“Matt Lambert’s hitting has been a huge plus for us,” concluded Hardee in assessing his player performances.

In a post-game interview, the versatile Lambert revealed to reporters that he was in the rotation to pitch Monday night, if needed, but said, “Hunter is on fire. He is pitching good for us. We just need to (make it happen) in each at-bat and make plays behind him.”

When you play Freedom you know that Coach Zimmerman is going to have them playing hard.

Asked what he expected of Freedom coming into the game, Hardee shared, “I knew they were young, but I also knew they would be scrappy. They are going to play hard because (Freedom head coach) Clint Zimmerman does a good job with them. There is no question about it: you know that when you play Freedom Coach Zimmerman is going to have them playing hard. They beat us here last year, 8-3. Being a home game for us, we certainly remembered that one.”

Wednesday’s outing is against rival Alexander Central, a non-conference game, and Blowing Rock News asked the former Appalachian State star pitcher and longtime Watauga coach about the differences in strategy that he might use in playing a mid-season non-conference opponent. His answer focused on player management.

“I am excited,” the coach acknowledged, “about being able to start Tyler Nigro on the mound Wednesday. It will be his first opportunity since coming out of early season workouts with a sore triceps. He has been rehabbing it and is just now getting back, so it will be a good start and opportunity for him. He is a good left-handed pitcher. Tyler comes from a great family. He is the third Nigro kid that I have coached

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