RED SPRINGS — Darren Bowen registered nine strikeouts and allowed two runs on just three hits in a complete game on the mound against East Columbus on Tuesday night, but the junior said his performance didn’t do his stat line justice.
“It was easily the worst game I’ve pitched all year,” Bowen said after the Red Devils cruised to an 8-2 victory over the Gators. “I didn’t execute any of my pitches well. I couldn’t get my curveball really going. I had to rely on the fastball. They put it in play a lot, but my defense stayed strong and helped me out.”
Both runs for the Gators (8-7, 4-7 TRC) came in the first inning. Kaleb Coleman hit an RBI single and another run scored as Luke Watts reached first base on an error by the Red Devils (12-8, 8-6 TRC).
Bowen stifled any attempts at a rally by the Gators for the rest of the game, striking out four of the last seven batters he faced to secure the victory.
“Overall, he did pretty good,” Red Springs head coach Chris Howell said of Bowen’s performance. “He still has to work on when he’s ahead in the count. We need to work on location.”
The Red Devils responded quickly after the Gators scored in the first inning. Jayshawn Carthen came home on a single by Bowen and Oliver Brooks hit a two-RBI single that plated Jaylen Mack and Gabriel Locklear later in the inning.
Brooks scored a run for the Red Devils in the third inning on an RBI groundout by Tyee Sampson. Colton Locklear doubled and scored on a passed ball earlier in the inning.
“I’ve been in a little bit of a slump lately. Haven’t been hitting the ball too well, so that helped when I got my hit,” Brooks said. “It boosted my confidence.”
Phillip Locklear drew a walk in the fourth inning and scored on an RBI single by Carthen, who advanced to second base on an error and stole third.
The Gators caught Carthen in a rundown at third base, but he was able to escape and get back into scoring position. A pickoff attempt caught Carthen coming home to score later in the inning, and he was tagged out at the plate.
Bowen helped his cause by hitting a sacrifice fly to bring home another run for the Red Devils. Another error by the Gators allowed the eight and final run to score for the Red Devils.
Brooks finished 2-for-3 with a pair of RBIs for Red Springs. Mack went 2-for-3 with a run scored.
Coleman, Fisher Reeves and Jerome Beck each picked up a hit for East Columbus.
Alex Ellis picked up the loss on the mound for the Gators. The three pitchers used by East Columbus yielded a total of 11 hits.
Howell said he wasn’t impressed with the way the Red Devils ran the bases.
“We have to stop making mental errors when we’re on the bases,” he said. “There’s a time to be aggressive and a time to be conservative. For some reason, lately we’ve found a reason to mix that up and get it wrong. We just have to keep practicing that, and I’ve got to do a better job coaching them.”
The Red Devils avenged a 3-2 loss to the Gators in March.
Howell said there is a sense of urgency with postseason implications affecting the rest of their schedule.
“I told them we’re on the fence right now with getting in the playoffs, so that’s all we want to do. This is one of two essential games we need to get this week. We’ve got South Robeson on Friday, so we’ll try to go down there and compete with them.”
Reach Brandon Tester at 910-816-1989 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @BrandonTester