SYLVESTER -- Westover's Robert Daniel ended the game just the way he began it.
The sophomore left-hander struck out the side in the first inning, then struck out the side in the seventh as the Patriots held on for a tough 3-1 win at Worth County on Tuesday.
Daniel tossed his second consecutive complete game, striking out 13 Worth batters while giving up just one hit as Westover remained unbeaten in Region 1-AAA at 4-0. Daniel, who struck out 17 in a complete game-win Friday over Monroe, outdueled Worth Ace Allen Fender for the win.
Fender, meanwhile, lasted six innings before being chased in the top of the seventh after Michael Schlegel doubled and scored on J.T. Santos' single to break a 1-1 tie. Fender, who gave up six hits while striking out nine, perhaps deserved a better fate.
But Daniel was untouchable.
"He pitched really, really well," Worth coach Will Smith said of Daniel. "He was really in command of his pitches. All he was throwing was fastballs and we couldn't hit it. Part of it was a lack of discipline on our part, but he was in control.
"He was the difference in the game."
Westover, which improved to 6-7 overall, broke on top 1-0 in the fourth inning when Will Buchanan singled and later scored on a Worth error.
The Rams (5-7 and 2-1) tied the game in the bottom of the sixth after Tyler Hembree walked, advanced all the way to third on a sac bunt by Jared Edwards and scored on Fender's single to center.
Westover, however, answered in the top of the seventh with Santos' RBI single. He later scored Westover's final run on a single to center by Daniel.
Heading into the bottom of the seventh, Westover coach Kevin Fretwell wanted to pull Daniel, but said the sophomore would have none of it.
"He was adamant about finishing the game," Fretwell said. "He's a bulldog."
And Daniel, despite topping 100 pitches in the game, was not to be denied.
"No way I was not going to finish it," Daniel said later. "I got a little rattled in the sixth when I gave up the hit. I really wanted the no-hitter. But my fastball was working all night, and I worked on conditioning all during the offseason, so I knew I could finish it."
Fretwell had nothing but praise for his team.
"That was a gutsy win (Tuesday) for us," he said. "When they tied it up we could have tightened up, but when they gathered before going to bat in the seventh, those guys knew we were going to score and win it. That showed me a lot of character.
"This game tested our guts."
After taking their lumps in non-region play (2-7) the Pats have been beating up on region opponents, and Fretwell says the rugged slate was by design.
"We've played an extremely hard out-of-region schedule," the coach said. "But everything we've done so far has been geared toward region play. We're 4-0 right now, but we don't want to get complacent. If that happens, somebody could sneak up and bite us."
Westover will visit Seminole County on Thursday while Worth travels to Crisp County on Friday.