Westover starter Robert Daniel gave up just one hit and struck out 11 Schley County batters in the Patriots' season opener Thursday, but still lost, 2-1.
LEESBURG — Chuck Cheek didn’t think one of his teams had ever won a game with just one hit.
Somehow Cheek’s Schley County Wildcats managed to do it Thursday in the season opener against Westover, beating the Patriots, 2-1, in the “Greatest Show on Dirt” invitational at Lee County High.
Westover ace Robert Daniel, a Gordon College signee, gave up just one hit in the first inning, a run-scoring single to Schley County’s Colton Satterfield, and then shut down the Wildcats the rest of the way.
“He was as good as advertised,” Cheek said of Daniel. “We’d heard a lot about him and he was very good. When he’s on the mound, they’re going to have a chance against anybody.”
Daniel went six innings and struck out 11, while allowing just one hit and walking three. Only one of the two runs Schley scored was earned, but Westover’s bats couldn’t back it up in the opener.
“Our bats were dormant,” said Patriots head coach Kevin Fretwell, who was without four starters still on the basketball team. “The situational hitting wasn’t there. We’ve just got to get a lot more batting practice in, but considering the youth that we played, I’m very pleased, especially defensively.”
Westover managed just three hits against Schley County starter Clint Collins, who went 6 1/3 innings, allowing just one unearned run to go with 10 strikeouts and one walk. The Patriots knocked him out in the seventh, trailing 2-0, when Chad Edwards drove in Shannon Brown for the only run of the game for Westover.
A Wildcats’ error on a grounder and an errant pickoff throw at first prolonged the inning, but Westover gave one back after freshman Tanner Mitchum was thrown out at home in a run down. Carvinsky Garrett, who played well defensively in his first start at third, hit a sharp groundout to first to end the game with the tying run on second.
“For six innings I loved what I saw, then in the last inning we made it interesting,” Cheek said.
Westover got hits from Edwards, Nick Lane and Fred Stephens but couldn’t string together enough hits against Collins after putting a runner on base every inning but the fifth. Justin Barnes got the save for the Wildcats.
Schley County’s Jamie Jacobson reached on a walk in the fourth inning and stole second after being picked off and then swiped third and home to put the Wildcats ahead 2-0.
Fretwell, though, was still pleased with the defensive effort from Garrett, Edwards at short and Evan Etheridge at first after an error-filled season a year ago.
“I’m extremely optimistic about what’s going to occur this year,” Fretwell said. “They made it exciting (in the seventh). This group of kids I’ve got have an awesome attitude. I can’t wait for mid-March.”
Westover next plays Lee County today at 4:30 in the four-team tournament at Lee County High and then plays Centennial Saturday at noon. Schley County will play Centennial, led by former Trojan Jake Hill, at 7 p.m. today and then plays Lee County Saturday at 6 p.m.