Raiders’ offense silenced in pitcher’s duel

Published 9:10 pm Thursday, March 27, 2014



The Pungo baseball team stepped onto its rain-soaked, spongy home field for the first time in 16 days Thursday only to face the Tarheel Conference’s reigning champion, the Warriors of Lawrence Academy.

Two days removed from a thrilling extra-inning victory over Terra Ceia, Lawrence called upon senior ace Conley Raines to contain the Raider bats, and he would come through, defeating Pungo 2-0 in a pitching showcase.

“He kept us off balance for the most part,” said head coach John Scott Cutler. “We’re not watching the ball like we should. We’re not seeing the rotation and reacting to the curveball. The rule of thumb is sit on it and take it the other way.”

After surrendering a leadoff double to the gap in left field, Raines settled and retired the side with a pickoff and two strikeouts. The double would be one of three Pungo hits on the evening.

Raines’ counterpart, Raiders’ ace Cole Austin Woolard, was equally impressive. The Pungo senior recorded four strikeouts over the first two innings – all looking – and kept his offensively silent squad in the ballgame.

Both pitchers continued to match each other until the fourth inning when Lawrence’s Zack Eubanks finally broke through with a single. Woolard drilled the next batter with a low-eighties fastball, and a throwing error followed to plate the first run of the game.

Visually agitated, Woolard left the rubber, but answered in the fifth inning by striking out the side, all looking.

Despite a great performance from the Pungo ace, Raines established his dominance and continued to send Raiders back to the dugout.

While he didn’t need it, Lawrence provided its phenom with another run in the sixth inning on two singles and two walks. With Thomas Mann warming in the bullpen, an animated Woolard looked Cutler in the face and made it known he was finishing the final inning.

Raines relinquished any chance of a Raiders rally, sitting down six of the final eight batters via the strikeout. The Warriors’ hurler went all seven innings, striking out 13 Raiders and allowing just three hits.

Woolard would finish all seven innings, striking out 11 and allowing just three hits, but failed to merit enough run support to exit with a win. Neither of the two runs were earned.

“Cole was fabulous. He did his job,” Cutler said. “He pitched his heart out and had both pitches working. He was on the black both sides of the plate in and out.”

The Raiders move 3-4 on the season with two closely contested back-to-back conference losses. Pungo will hit the road and try to pick up its first conference win when the Raiders face Hobgood Academy on Monday.