For the Daily Journal
Center Grove sophomore pitcher Brian Gaffney looked plenty comfortable in his first varsity start.
“Everything was working,” Gaffney said. “My fastball was in a zone. I was hitting my spots. My curveball was working; they couldn’t really hit it so I kept throwing it. There were a few times when pitches got away from me, but I got back in my groove.”
That groove allowed Gaffney to toss a five-inning no-hitter Friday night in a 10-0 romp against visiting Greenwood.
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Gaffney, who previously pitched in relief this season, struck out 11 and allowed just two walks for the Trojans (3-6), who snapped a four-game losing streak.
“He had really good command of his breaking ball,” Trojans coach Keith Hatfield said. “He hadn’t thrown in over a week. He always commands his fastball well. When you can get ahead, it puts hitters on the defense. It’s a lot easier to pitch.”
While three Greenwood batters reached on three errors, Gaffney was helped by a nice catch by left fielder Cameron Gregson.
“I thanked him a lot,” Gaffney said. “That was crucial.”
The Trojans helped Gaffney with strong run support, with a five-run second inning giving the Trojans (3-6) a 6-0 edge over the Woodmen (3-7).
“With my team putting up runs, it makes it that much better,” Gaffney said.
In the second inning, Ryan Sauter delivered a two-run double and Michael Wyman drove in two with a single.
“When you’re on top early, everything is easier,” Sauter said. “(Gaffney) was amazing.”
Hatfield said his team was disciplined at the plate.
“I don’t think we tried to do too much (Friday night),” Hatfield said. “We took whatever the pitcher gave us. We had more hits to opposite field than we have in a long time.”
In the three-run fifth inning, Garrett Hill led off a home run.
“Hill swings hard every time he’s up at the plate,” Hatfield said. “He doesn’t get cheated. When he connects, that’s what happens.”
Following singles by Braden Parks and Gregson, Eli Lawyer-Smith delivered a run-scoring single to make it 9-0. The game ended when the final run came home on a balk.
Greenwood coach Andy Bass said his team has to have a better approach at the plate.
“We take a lot of fastballs on the first pitch,” Bass said. “The first pitch is always usually the best pitch you’re going to see in an at-bat and we tend to take them. Once you get behind, then you’re guessing what’s he’s bringing and we’ve proven we’re not very good at that. Until we start being aggressive on the first-pitch fastball, it’s going to be a rough season.”
In contrast, Bass said his pitchers got behind on 75 percent of the hitters who came to the plate.
“You can’t do that because they’re sitting on the fastball because they know it’s coming,” Bass said. “When you throw, ball, ball, strike, ball, you’re putting your defense to sleep, so when a ball is hit they’re not ready to field it. We have to do a better job of pounding the zone and getting ahead in counts, keeping our rhythm going to guys can stay in the game.”