Shepard fans 11, Bears stay unbeaten
It was a “David versus Goliath” match-up when Bunker Hill faced Newton-Conover in baseball Friday.
The Bears entered the game a staggering 16-0 and 10-0 in CVAC games.
The Red Devils sported a 1-15 record. However, that didn’t stop Newton-Conover from playing their hearts out.
Red Devil pitcher Todd Church had his finest game of the season, striking out nine batters, but the Bears were just too much.
Bunker Hill scored six runs off of Church and pitcher Jacob Shepard struck out 11 batters, allowed one walk and three hits to give the Bears their 17th consecutive victory.
“I thought Jacob did a great job for us,” said Bunker Hill coach Marty Curtis. “He kept Newton-Conover in check and we were able to do some things to manufacture runs.“
The Bears (17-0, 11-0) scored one run in three of the first four innings. The first run of the game came on an error, as Elliott McCourry scored.
Shepard drove in first basemen Jeremy Null on a one-out sacrifice in the second.
Cole McGraw singled to score Seth Brotherton, who pinch ran for Tyler Shook in the fourth inning.
Church settled down though. With runners on first and second in the fifth inning, he struck out two straight batters to get out of the inning without an earned run.
“This is the best Todd has done all year,” said N-C coach Corey Nunley. “It is probably our best pitching performance by anyone all year. Bunker Hill can hit, but he kept them off balance. He did what he needed to do. He kept the ball in and out, and up and down.”
The Red Devils (1-16, 1-10) mounted offense of their own in the bottom of the fifth inning. Singles by Michael Wood and Church put runners on first and second, but Shepard showed he was clutch on the mound also. He struck out Jayme Arnold to leave Newton-Conover without a run.
“Jacob’s pitching was the key for us,” Curtis said. “Our pitching has been outstanding all year, and he was outstanding here tonight.”
Shepard said a few things were working well for him on the mound, which helped him have a great game.”
“I just stayed in rhythm,” Shepard said. “I didn’t take any breaks. I worked at my pace, played my game and didn’t play into their game.”
Sensing urgency from the home team, Bunker Hill tried to add some offense and pad their lead in the seventh inning. A bunt by Brotherton scored Jeremy Null from third base to make it a 4-0 game.
The errors that plagued the Red Devils in the first inning returned in the seventh. With runners on second and third, the Bears’ Kyle Davis drove a ball to N-C shortstop Spencer Travis, who was unable to come up with the ball. That allowed Cody Plemmons and Brotherton to score.
“Our guys got some bunts down, and we ran the bases fairly well, except for the one pickoff,” Curtis said. “We also got a few timely hits. I thought the bunts played a big part in our win.”
McGraw came in to pitch in the seventh inning and closed out strong, striking out the Red Devil’s side to earn the save.
Despite a rough season so far, Nunley remains optimistic about his team, especially with Friday’s performances.
“That is one of the better games we have put together, even though we struck out so many times,” Nunley said. “Shepard is one of the best pitchers we have seen all year. We have some fight in us. If we just keep going, maybe we can find a win here or there. Bunker Hill is 17-0, and you can’t take away from them.”