HENDERSONVILLE - Tuesday night was the Jordan Zuger show at Drakes Creek Park as the junior hurler struck out 10 Buccaneer batters and surrendered no hits through six full innings in the 3-0 victory.
“We wanted him around the 80 pitch mark tonight,” Hendersonville head coach Mike Hendrix said. “He did a good job tonight, and I would like to see him go all seven, but it is just not worth risking the kids’ arm. When you do not give up hits, that is doing something good.”
The opening day start is the first of the right-handed pitcher’s career.
“I was a little nervous to start the game,” he told the Hendersonville Standard. “Once I realized I had the defense and the team behind me, things slowed down. I was not worried about getting strikeouts just trying to put the ball in play to let my defense work.
"I worked my two-seam (fastball), four-seam (fastball), curveball and slider. My two-seam and slider worked really well," Zuger added.
Ryan Oden secured the save for the Commandos.
“You are talking about a kid (Oden) who transferred in last year from Station Camp and has found a new life and new home here,” Hendrix added. “He will help us out last year. He gained some experience tonight and did a good job.”
Hendersonville tallied just two of their three total hits on Beech starting pitcher Bryson Duffer in the home half of the third inning, but it was all the team needed to score their three runs.
An Andruw Stratton single loaded the bases before a Caid Sanders deep sacrifice fly to centerfield scored Jonathon Odom for the first run of the game.
A wild pitch from Bryson Duffer plated Torin Baker and a Ryan Oden single scored Stratton for the three run advantage.
“We have been working on choking up and putting the ball in play, and you saw that tonight,” Hendersonville head coach Mike Hendrix said. “When you strikeout nothing good happens, and the truth is we struck out too much last year, so putting the ball in play has been a big emphasis for us. If you put the ball in play, something good can happen.”
Zuger cruised through the next three innings before being replaced by Oden.
Beech collected their only hit of the game off Oden in the top of the seventh inning when Kannon Lewis sent a ball to left field, advancing the runner on first to second base.
Beech made things exciting with a walk, but a strikeout from Oden sealed the win for the Commandos.
Bryson Duffer suffered the loss on the mound for Beech, throwing five full innings and surrendering three runs on three hits. Duffer struck out six and walked two Commando batters on 72 pitches.
The two teams will play their second tilt of the season Wednesday night at Beech High School.
“The positive about tonight is we get to come back and play tomorrow,” Beech head coach Josh Carman said. “I want us to dig deep and find intensity. I want us to be excited to play the game. I thought we played well on defense, so that is a positive.”
Carman also added that Beech just happened to fall victim to an excellent pitching performance.
“He threw it well,” he said. “He kept us off-balance all night. Our approach at the plate looked like a first game. We were not very aggressive, and the bottom line is that we did not match their intensity.”
Following Wednesday’s game, Beech will travel to the Grand Slam Challenge from March 12-14 then return home March 17 for a game against White House.
Hendersonville will host Oakland on March 13.