The more Garrett Williams threw Thursday night the more comfortable he felt.
Williams’ stronger-as-he-went performance allowed Calvary’s offense to get comfortable as well, helping the Cavaliers start District 1-2A play with a 5-2, eight-inning win against Evangel at Durwood Rust Field.
“These games with a lot of excitement, a lot of anticipation, all these pitchers have trouble,” Calvary coach Todd Walker said. “They’re 18, 17, 16. They haven’t dealt with this type of pressure much. It does get the best of them early. Lucky for us, they had to change pitchers a few times. We were able to stay with our guy, and naturally, you start to feel comfortable. Pitching’s all about feel, and so is hitting. He got a real good feel going there in the third or fourth inning.”
For four innings, Williams (3-1) looked vulnerable. His breaking ball deserted him, helping Evangel build a 2-0 lead with a two-run third inning.
Through four innings, Williams had as many hit batters as strikeouts (three).
“I was real excited coming into the game,” Williams said. “I was really wild and out of control those first couple of innings. The adrenaline kicked in, and I had to come back into myself, and I went on from there.”
From the fifth inning on, Williams again looked like a preseason All-American.
Williams struck out 10 batters in the final four innings, mixing a sharper curveball with better fastball command.
“He started getting his offspeed over,” Evangel coach Tim Hulett said. “When he starts throwing his breaking ball over, he’s a lot tougher.”
While Williams made life tough on the Eagles offense, Evangel (9-7, 0-1) used four pitchers to stifle Calvary (11-2, 1-0) for much of the night.
Scotty Harvill, pitching through tendinitis in his right elbow, tossed three scoreless, hitless innings before Hulett went to Austin Jordan for the fourth inning.
Jordan extended Calvary’s hitless streak to the fifth inning when Luke Williams led off with a single.
Calvary scratched out a run in the sixth and got a run-scoring groundout totie the game in the seventh.
In the eighth, the Cavaliers came up with the clutch hits that avoided them in the first seven innings. With two outs, Lane Falcon chopped a two-out, run-scoring single up the middle, just out of Evangel second baseman Spencer Goodwin’s reach, to score Williams with the go-ahead run.
Cody May followed with a two-run single to right-center, putting the game out of reach.
“I just walked up there confident in what coach taught me,” Falcon said. “I was lucky enough to hit it up the middle and score a run. I felt like we didn’t hit the ball well early, but every game, there’s that one big inning for each team, and we finally had the back-to-back innings to bless us enough to get the victory.”
Williams made the three-run lead stand up, working around a two-out walkto strike out the side in the eighth, finishing his 13-strikeout performance on 129 pitches against a familiar opponent.
“We’ve played each other for the past four years, and I’ve thrown against them the whole time,” Williams said. “They know my approach, and they know what I have. That’s baseball, though. When you get to the pros, teams will know what and have a scouting report on you.”