History held true at Gator Field on Thursday night.
For the fourth straight time, a District 1-5A baseball game between Haughton and Captain Shreve ended early because of the mercy rule.
Behind its battery of left-hander Fielding Matkins and catcher Bryant Bowen, the Gators gained the upper hand in the opener of the three-game series, cruising to an 11-0 victory.
“We’ve played some lopsided games with Haughton the last couple of years,” Captain Shreve coach Todd Sharp said. “We knew we’d see (Haughton starter Josh) Walker on Thursday, so we had good time to prepare, if you can prepare for him.”
While Walker (5-2) struggled, Matkins was sharp, tossing a complete-game shutout.
Haughton (8-14, 2-2) threatened early, putting runners on second and third with two outs in the first before Matkins (4-1) started his trend of dancing out of trouble.
In three of the five innings, the Bucs had runners in scoring position. Matkins held Haughton to one hit in five at-bats with runners in scoring position.
“When he’s on, he’s one of the best we have, one of the best in the area for that matter,” Sharp said of Matkins. “When it’s time, and something’s on the line, he always makes quality pitches. He’s done that for four years. He’s done that, not just this game, but all year.”
Matkins’ gem helped keep the Gators (14-8, 4-0) in the District 1-5A lead.
Matkins, a Northwestern State signee, scattered four hits and struck out just two, both in the fifth inning.
“You never want to give anyone anything,” Matkins said. “The guys played great defense. It was great defense all around.”
The Gators’ offense gave Matkins plenty of help.
Taking advantage of Walker’s control problems and a key Haughton error, Captain Shreve sent 14 batters to the plate in the second inning, scoring nine runs and knocking out Walker in the process.
Bowen put together two lengthy at-bats in the inning. The first was an eight-pitch battle against Walker that ended with Bowen delivering an infield single.
His 10-pitch struggle against reliever David Rost turned into a two-run single, part of the nine-run onslaught.
“He’s a good pitcher,” Bowen said of Walker. “It just wasn’t there for him today. He pounds the zone, and I know I was battling up there. When he misses, it’s going to be a good miss and close, so you have to be aware.”
Bowen’s second single was hit well and well placed, summing up the second inning for the Bucs.
Haughton pitchers allowed five hits, walked three and hit another Gator, as Captain Shreve picked up its second mercy-rule win against the Bucs in the last two seasons.
The teams are even in that category, as all three games in last year’s district series failed to go the normal seven innings.
“Hopefully, it’s our way (tonight),” Haughton coach Glenn Maynor said. “We didn’t play well in all phases of the game, but it’s like I told the guys, we can only lose once (Thursday night). That’s the good thing. We could have lost 2-1 in 12, and it would have been the same result. We’ll be back (tonight).”