Over the top or from the side, North Webster’s Cole Gray threw almost every pitch where he wanted it Tuesday night against Evangel.
Gray effortlessly changed arm angles for seven innings, keeping Evangel’s lineup off-balance, en route to a 5-0 District 1-2A victory for the Knights at Durwood Rust Field.
“I was nervous a little bit,” said Gray, who got a mound visit from head coach Chris Brooks in the seventh inning before getting a fielder’s choice groundout to end it.
“He calmed my nerves and told me to go get them. I did what he told me to do.”
There wasn’t much Gray and the Knights (19-6, 2-1) did wrong Tuesday night.
Gray (4-1) did not allow a runner past second base, keeping the Eagles from having a runner in scoring position until there was one out in the fifth inning.
By that point, North Webster had taken advantage of five Evangel (11-9, 1-2) errors to build a 5-0 lead. The Knights’ first three runs came on two throwing errors and a wild pitch. Connor Nolan’s RBI single in the third was one of just three North Webster hits and the only one to drive in a run.
It was a turnaround game for North Webster, which has dealt with fielding issues this season.
“That’s plagued us — a couple of key errors here and there,” Brooks said. “(Tuesday) we threw strikes and played defense.”
Whether Gray was commanding his overhand breaking ball or sneaking a sidearm fastball by an Evangel hitter, he did it efficiently. Gray, a right-hander, needed 83 pitches to complete the five-hit shutout. His most efficient stretch came in the third and fourth innings, when he retired the Eagles on eight pitches in each inning.
“We just got beat,” Evangel coach Tim Hulett said. “They pitched better than us. They hit better than us. They played defense better than us, and they were ready to play better than us, so they deserved to win.”