Shook Shakes Redhawks

Westwood’s Quinton Wilson dives safely back to first base during Saturday’s pitchers’ duel against Dutch Fork. (Photo/DeAnna Robinson)

Westwood’s Quinton Wilson dives safely back to first base during Saturday’s pitchers’ duel against Dutch Fork. (Photo/DeAnna Robinson)

BLYTHEWOOD – Dutch Fork’s T.J. Shook said he wasn’t throwing anything special Saturday afternoon at Westwood. What he did throw was enough to stymie the Redhawks at the plate.

Quentin Wilson legged out a bunt in the fifth inning to account for Westwood’s only hit in Dutch Fork’s 2-0 Region III-4A victory at the Redhawks’ stadium.

“Their guy threw well,” Westwood head coach Jonathan Burroughs said. “From what I’ve heard from those guys, he’s a College of Charleston signee, and in 4A baseball, you’re going to see good pitching like that.”

Shook’s complete-game, 9-strikeout performance kept Redhawk batters guessing.

“I was throwing strikes, definitely. I had a lot of fun out there,” Shook said. “I was just throwing a 2-seam fastball mostly, worked in a little curveball and a changeup.”

Westwood (4-3) got a strong pitching performance from left-hander Ray Branson. Branson scattered six hits, struck out four and walked one in his second complete-game performance of the season.

“When he’s on the mound and we play defense, we’re as good as anybody else,” Burroughs said.

Dutch Fork (7-2) enjoyed a lively first inning before the Westwood defense could tighten up. The game’s leadoff batter, Lane Ecton, smacked a triple into right center field and came home on Ward Hacklen’s sacrifice fly.

Blake Smith doubled, but was out at the plate on Shook’s ground ball to Duncan White at second. Branson then struck out Brandon Deans to retire the side.

When Westwood came to bat, Brandon May and White got on base with two out, thanks to back-to-back errors charged to Dutch Fork second baseman Cody Keel. Shook, however, got Travis White to hit into a 6-4 fielder’s choice to end the inning.

Dutch Fork picked up its second run in the third. With one out, Ecton on second and Hacklen at first, catcher Elijah Healley threw to White at third in an attempt to throw out Ecton who jumped for third. Healley’s throw went into short left and brought Ecton home.

Branson and Westwood clamped down again, as Smith fouled out and Shook flied out to close out the third.

The Silver Foxes threatened again with one out in the sixth. Shook and Deans singled, and Branson intentionally walked Zach Ziesing. Branson, however, got Josh Carter to slap a comebacker back to the mound.

Branson threw to Healley for the force at home, and Healley threw to Ryan Brinson at first for the inning-ending double play.

“I’ve got to give credit to my assistant Larry Perry on that,” Burroughs said of the twin killing. “He said ‘coach, let’s put this guy on.’ It was a great call, and we got what we wanted.”

Dutch Fork went down in order in the top of the seventh, but Shook struck out two and got Wilson to ground out to close out the win.

“We struggled at the plate but we played good defense today,” Burroughs said. “It’s a mental thing with our guys. It’s like I tell them, you’ve got to believe. When we pitch well and play good defense, we’re as good as anybody else.”

DF: 1-0-1-0-0-0-0 – 2-6-2

WHS: 0-0-0-0-0-0-0 – 0-1-1

D: T.J. Shook and Blake Smith. W: Ray Branson and Elijah Healley. 2B: Smith (D) 3B: Lane Ecton (D).