Nate Grant took control after a shaky start, pitching Corning to a 2-0 victory against Horseheads in Southern Tier Athletic Conference West baseball Monday at Corning West High.
Grant, who on Tuesday will sign a national letter of intent to play for St. Bonaventure University, gave up four hits with eight strikeouts and one walk. The four hits came in the first two innings.
Grant retired 15 of the last 16 batters he faced, hitting Jake Burlingame with a pitch with one out in the seventh inning.
Grant said he needed to adjust to the new pitching mound, which he said is a bit higher than the old one. Once he got comfortable, he said he was able to keep the Blue Raiders off-balance.
“My curve was working. That helped a lot,” he said.
Taking the terms used by Corning coach John Knapp and Horseheads coach Jeff Limoncelli, the Hawks “scratched” across a pair of runs in the bottom of the fourth.
Joe Foti and Zachary Sullivan opened the Corning fourth with back-to-back singles. Nick Westgate then reached on the lone error of the game to load the bases.
Following a strikeout, Derek Fie singled to left to score Foti, and Sullivan came home on Jordan Prisella’s sacrifice fly.
Burlingame pitched a four-hit complete game for Horseheads (7-3, 4-2 STAC). He set down the last eight batters he faced and finished with two strikeouts and one walk.
The Blue Raiders had opportunities in the first and second innings.
Sean Nickerson singled with one out in the Horseheads first. He was forced out at second, then Jake Dimon hit an infield single before Grant induced a popup to end the threat.
In the second inning, Nico Limoncelli and Matt Smith hit back-to-back singles with two out. Grant fanned the next batter to complete the inning, and he cruised from there.
Two scouts representing the Seattle Mariners attended the game, and they were treated to excellent baseball.
“Good pitching and defense,” Limoncelli said.
“It’s always great when Horseheads and Corning get together,” Knapp said, noting the game took less than two hours.
The scouts declined to identify themselves, as well as who they were looking at. Sullivan took some swings after the game as the two men watched.
“It’s nice to have the pro scouts around,” Knapp said.
One of the scouts joked they were “looking at everybody,” and Grant gave them something to consider. Yet he was more interested in how the Hawks (9-1, 5-1 STAC) are doing.
“At the beginning of the season we talked about winning STAC, the sectionals and the states,” he said.
Limoncelli said he appreciated his team’s effort.
“We competed. That’s all you can ask,” he said. “We’re used to being in these big games.”