LONGVIEW — An impressive pitching impasse gave way to a late throwing mistake, enabling Bullard to earn a 1-0 triumph over Spring Hill on Friday at Panther Field.
The storyline featured a picturesque pitching performance from Spring Hill’s Caden Noah and Bullard’s Hagen Smith. Neither southpaw showed any surrender and matched each other pitch for pitch.
Smith, a sophomore bound for Oklahoma State, worked 5.1 innings. He faced 22 batters, struck out 12, walked three and gave up one base hit.
Noah was equally stellar in his six innings. The junior University of Texas commit fanned eight, walked four and yielded just one hit.
It was a classic chess match and primarily centered around who would blink first.
Bullard’s first real threat to break the ice came in its half of the fifth when Riley Sharp reached on an error and moved up 90 feet on a passed ball.
A Bryce Jewell dribbler slipped under the glove of Spring Hill shortstop Trent Gregson, who was clearly going to make a force at second on Zakary Zahirniak.
In all the commotion Jewell rounded third and headed home only to be cut down on a nice relay from centerfielder Ethan Tidwell to catcher Jonas Roberts.
Spring Hill’s first and last base hit came in its at bat in the fifth when eight-hole hitter Marshall Lipsey laid down and legged out a bunt to third. A throwing on the play allowed Lipsey to take second with one down.
Smith, as he did all game, tightened the screws and threw the heat. He proceeded to fan Roberts and Noah, stranding Lipsey on second base.
Noah reached his 110-pitch limit in the sixth after issuing back-to-back walks to open the frame. Gregson came in from short to take the hill and gave up an opposite field slap to right off the bat of Ryley Sharp. This would load the bases with nobody out.
CJ Gardner, who walked to start the seventh, took third on a errant pitch that morphed into a throwing error, resulting in the game’s lone score.
Gregson was able to bear down, retiring Brandon Taylor and Jewell swinging, while make a slick off-the-mound play on a Landry Lasseter bunt attempt.
Smith, who retired with one down in the sixth, watched as Gardner closed the door in the seventh. But it wasn’t before Spring Hill got Tidwell on with a leadoff walk and Lipsey advanced him to second with ground out.
Roberts pushed him to third with a grounder to second and Noah, on a gutsy call, was given the intentional free pass. This put runners at the corners, including what would’ve been the winning run.
Gardner was able to get Gregson looking on inside corner fastball and Bullard (9-2, 18-5) sewed up second place in District 16-4A.
Spring Hill (7-4, 16-7) slides into sole possession of third place with one regular season game remaining for both schools.
Bullard closes with Henderson, while Gilmer visits Spring Hill Tuesday.