UPDATE: All of Harnett Central’s games on Friday (March 2) have been called off. The home softball game with Fuquay-Varina has been reset for April 11.
Senior right-hander Baker Nelson, an N.C. State signee, and freshman Lincoln Ihler combined for a shutout as Harnett Central took a 5-0 baseball win over visiting West Johnston on Wednesday in the season opener.
Nelson pitched five and two-thirds innings, giving up no runs on six hits and no walks, with 12 strikeouts.
Ihler pitched one and one-third innings, yielding no runs on one hit and no walks, with one strikeout.
Hunter McLamb had two hits, including a double and one RBI to lead the Trojans offensively.
Nelson had one hit, two RBIs and one run scored. Jared Raynor had one hit, one RBI and one run scored. Jackson Yarbrough had one hit and one run scored. Justin Perkins and Paul Gervase had one hit apiece. Johnny Grizzard scored once.
Central scored two runs in the first inning and three in the second.
“Baker Nelson went up there and was in late season form,” said Central coach Lance Honeycutt. “He threw a bunch of strikes and if they hadn’t fouled off a couple of pitches he left up, he would have thrown well under 85 pitches.
“Then Lincoln Ihler came in, as a freshman, and shut the door. That’s all you can ask for as a coach.
“We hit the ball. We’ve been really focusing on a backside approach, seeing fastballs away and driving them that way. These guys bought in and it paid off. … We usually have trouble with runners in scoring position and we didn’t today. We had the bases loaded, we scored three runs with that. Had a runner in scoring position twice and scored both times.
“All around it was a great baseball game and a fun game to watch. Fundamentally we played great defense. No physical errors at all. A couple of mental errors, but no physical.
“It was a clean baseball game and something Harnett Central can take pride in and carry on with into the season. We’re young. A boatload of juniors, a bunch of sophomores and one freshman. We only have three seniors. They’re doing a great job leading. They’ve just got to buy in to getting these younger guys ready for next year. That’s what we need.”
The Trojans played the varsity gama before the junior varsity game on Wednesday due to the increased chance of rain in the evening.
Central is scheduled to visit Clayton on Friday for a 7 p.m. varsity contest.