WENDELL — Garner’s Saylon Kieft buzz sawed his way through the East Wake line-up Thursday night, striking out 13 in the 8-2 win over the host Warriors.
The senior Kieft allowed only four hits and two walks over seven innings.
Kieft’s best work may have been in the first inning, when East Wake loaded the bases with a walk and two-infield hits with no outs. However, Kieft bore down and struck out the next three batters to end the threat.
“We had a chance to get to (Kieft) right there in the first inning,” said East Wake coach Derek Matthews. “That set a big precedent with the game. You get bases loaded with no outs against them in a game you know you’re not going to get many runs, and I thought we gave up a chance right there.”
“After that he settled down and was lights out.”
It may have provided the momentum for the Trojans in the second inning.
Garner used two walks and an error to load the bases. East Wake starter Paschal Ammons struck out the next batter, but then Kieft laced a single past third base scoring two runs. Brighton Hudson’s ground out to second tacked on one more run for the 3-0 lead.
Kieft was lights out working through the bottom of the second inning with three straight strike outs.
“He’s been solid for us all year. His control was good. His velocity was good. It was definitely a good night for him,” Garner coach Derik Goffena said of Kieft.
Kieft also responded with the bat, going three-for-three with two walks and three stolen bases.
Ammons rebounded in the third inning and matched Kieft on the mound allowing only two hits over the next three innings. Then in the top of the sixth with two outs, control started to slip away.
Two walks sandwiched around a hit batter loaded the bases for Garner. Then Grayson Lee’s line drive single to left field scored a run. Ammons walked the next batter to force in another run and end his night.
Cody Alphin came in on relief, but walked the first batter he faced to allow another run. Alphin settled down and struck out the next batter to end the inning with Garner leading 6-0.
“I hate it for (Ammons) because he gets the loss,” Matthews said. “He’s doing a great job, but his record don’t state it because he’s getting every big game we play.”
“The last two games against Garner he’s thrown outstanding in my opinion.”
East Wake (7-7, 4-4 Greater Neuse River 4A) finally got to Kieft in the bottom of the sixth. With two outs, Jason Dean beat out an infield hit to the hole at short. Then Alphin followed with a triple to deep right center scoring Dean. Alphin later came home on a wild pitch by Kieft, one of his few blemishes in the game. Kieft would strike out Ammons to end the inning leading 6-2.
Garner (10-5, 6-1) tacked on two more in the top of the seventh. Cody Jones’ fly ball to right was dropped, setting up the 8-2 lead.
Kieft finished the seventh, starting with a walk before retiring the next three batters.
“Kieft and Brighton Hudson have been our two guys this year,” Goffena said. “When they’re pitching we feel like we have a great chance. When they play good, when they get on base, and when they’re throwing well, we’re usually winning.”