Most teams would be grateful for having one stud ace pitcher.
Mason Hiser again showed that Augusta's baseball team has two of them.
Hiser struck out 13 Circle Thunderbirds in game 2 of Thursday's doubleheader. The T-birds' only two runs were unearned as the Orioles won 9-2.
The win completed the two-game sweep after Augusta beat Circle 10-6 in the opener. Gavin Hutson, who pitched for the first time as an Oriole, threw five strikeouts on the mound to lead Augusta to a win.
"Just to see our kids play well," coach Doug Jefferson said was his favorite part of the wins. "We hit the ball well, we played defense well and we pitched well enough to win. That's the first we've done all that in a while. It's nice to see. They played like they can."
The T-birds started the opener with a pair of walks as Hutson worked to settle in, but Augusta catcher Ben Madison threw out a runner on a steal attempt, then Hutson picked off the other runner to empty the bases. Cameron Kifer still connected for an RBI triple and later scored on an error to give Circle an early 2-0 lead.
After that, Hutson didn't give up another hit for two innings. He said he was able to hit his fastballs to keep Circle's hitters in check.
"I guess I just got the first inning out of the way. Then we got runs on the board. That helps a lot and I just settled in after that," Hutson said.
While they weren't able to do so Monday at McPherson, the Orioles' offense took advantage of runners in scoring position. Ian Rogers started the top of the second with a single, then moved to second after Madison was hit by a pitch. Dustyn McEachern roped an opposite-field double to drive in a run. Cody Wesbrooks then drove in another run on a sacrifice.
Circle then made a couple errors on pickoff attempts to let the Orioles add two more runs. Garrett Hutson then ripped an RBI single to give Augusta a 5-2 lead.
"That's what hurt us in McPherson. We left a ton of runners on base," Jefferson said. "We'd been working on hitting, and it's starting to come around finally."
The Orioles were hit by two more pitches in the third inning, and later scored after more errors by Circle.
The Orioles led 7-2 when Circle loaded the bases to start the fourth. Josh Guthrie then got hit by a pitch to drive in a run. Prestan Bevan relieved Gavin and got three pop-ups to end the inning, but not before Circle scored one more on a passed ball to cut it to 7-4.
"He doesn't have the best line or anything tonight with his walk, but I was impressed with what I saw and how he competed," Jefferson said. "That's what I told the kids. We need people out there on the hill who are going to compete."
Connor Hurst hit a two-out RBI double to score Wesbrooks in the Orioles' fifth. Circle's Hank Boulanger ripped a triple, then scored on a wild pitch to cut the deficit to 8-5.
Madison hit an RBI single in the sixth to score Michael Albright as the Orioles pushed their lead to 9-5. Augusta scored one more for a 10-5 lead in the seventh. Boulanger drove in another T-bird run in the bottom of the inning, but that would be all Circle would score.
In game 2, Hiser was simply brilliant. He had his fastball working and threw in some nasty sliders to make batters look bad. Hiser even said his curveball could use a little improvement, which will make him even more dangerous.
"I just hit my spots, and when I hit my spots, no one can really hit me," Hiser said.
Circle scored an unearned run in the first and fifth innings, but that was about all it got off of Hiser. He allowed just three hits and hit two batters to go with no walks and those 13 strikeouts.
Ian Rogers came in relief through the final two innings. He gave up just one hit and a walk while the defense did the rest. Garrett made a highlight catch as he dove and caught a would-be bloop single in shallow left field. The Orioles made several nice defensive plays to make up for their couple of errors.
-Augusta's JV team beat Circle 17-1 and 10-0 for the sweep.