Three Rivers baseball got some extra time off for the second day in a row.
After holding on for a 5-2 win in its first game of a doubleheader against Williams Baptist Tuesday, the Raiders' offense put 10 runs on the board in the fourth inning of the second game to finish a 15-2 win in five innings.
The series sweep is the third in a row for Three Rivers (15-13-1), which climbed back over .500.
"We emphasized between games the importance of coming back out back-to-back days and keeping the mental edge, not looking too far ahead and taking things for granted." Three Rivers coach Stacey Burkey said.
The day carried some extra emotion for pitcher Austin Williams, who started the second game of the day. Williams transferred to Three Rivers this season after playing at Williams Baptist as a freshman. Going against a lot of old teammates and his former coaches was on his mind at first, but he had to focus on the game in his second start of the season.
"I was a little shaky in the first, this being my old team from college, so there's a little nerves going into it playing them again," Williams said. "In the second inning, my teammates just really got behind me and told me to pitch like I always do. They really helped me out in the second, so after that, it was smooth sailing from there."
He allowed two runs in the first inning but followed up with three shutout innings. In four innings on the mound, Williams finished the day allowing two hits, two earned runs and four walks to go along with a strikeout and a 3.5 ERA.
"At the beginning when I was stretching and warming up, I was like, 'I've gotta put up a big performance here,' you know, being my old team. I wanted to get in the zone early and start off early and just go at them. When I got on the mound, I did get a little emotional and a little nervous pitching against my old friends and stuff like that. After that, I was like this is a new team and you've gotta move on from that.
"My teammates helped me get past that and do good after that."
His teammates helped both in the dugout and on the field. The offense responded to the first two runs he allowed by scoring four in the bottom of the first to give him a cushion to work with. That allowed him to settle in and play with less pressure against his former team.
"It's always easy to pitch with a lead. When our bats are performing like that and we start getting hits, scoring runs and putting 15 up a game, it's easy to pitch with a lead and get in the zone early and just throw instead of thinking about everything," Williams said.
Leading 5-2 in the fourth, Tony Rudd was hit by a pitch, setting up an implosion from the Williams Baptist defense that ended the game. With Roberto Mejia at the plate, Rudd stole second. Mejia singled on a full-count pitch to drive in Rudd for the inning's first run.
Reece Reading became the second player to get hit by a pitch. Reading and Mejia stole second and third, respectively, and Nick Fakouri drew a walk to load the bases with no one out. Kyle Clayton stepped into the box and became the third batter of the inning to get hit by a pitch, scoring Mejia in the process and keeping the bases loaded.
Beau Burson drew a walk after loading the count to score Reading. Zac Salyers ran for Fakouri and scored off a wild pitch to keep the runs piling up. After the Raiders eventually went around the order and began to make some substitutions, Henry Bournigal tallied his second hit of the year on a liner through the gap at second base, scoring Winston Welter.
Fakouri stepped up for his second at-bat of the inning and nailed a bases-clearing triple into the fence in left-center field to score Mejia and Bournigal and finish off the scoring in the inning.
A.J. Calhoon came in for Williams in the seventh and had a 1-2-3 inning with three straight strikeouts to end the game.
"It was good to get A.J. out there. He hadn't been out there in a little while, but he looked like his velocity was back to where it was at earlier in the year. It was good for him to go out there and get a good, quick inning," Burkey said.
In the first game, both teams tallied seven hits, but a four-run fifth inning from Three Rivers was the difference in the game.
Shelby Quiggins put in a quality start to open the day. He finished with six strikeouts in five innings, allowing three hits and an earned run with a 1.4 ERA.
Three Rivers is trending in the right direction at the perfect time as it'll visit Crowder for a four-game series over the weekend.
"It's feeling good," Williams said. "Our pitching is starting to get back into it, which we weren't early, but we're starting to find it now. Our bats are starting to pick up and we're starting to put a lot of runs on the board, which we didn't see in the first region series. So it's going to be exciting to see what we can do when we start getting the bats rolling like we have."
Saturday's doubleheader will start at 1 p.m., and Sunday's will start at noon.
Nate Fields - Daily American Republic