Freshman dominates 2-hit gem
Cornersville freshman Graham Duke has a lot to live up to on the mound at Frog Bottom, following a pair of pitchers that set the standard for the Bulldogs in David Looney and Lucas Laster.
Duke is well aware of the legacy, learning from Looney last year and now from Laster, who is on the current Cornersville staff.
"Those guys have taught me to pitch, how to control the counts better and how to be a better teammate," Duke said.
Duke, who threw a no-hitter earlier in the season, dominated Hampshire Monday night at Cornersville, tossing a two-hit shutout with 13 strikeouts as the Bulldogs run-ruled the Hawks 10-0 in five innings.
"I just wanted to make sure I threw a lot of strikes and try to keep it on the outside corners," Duke said. "I'm satisfied with how I did and how the team did."
Duke did not walk a batter in the contest, giving up a pair of singles to Chase Lambert in the second inning and in the fifth inning.
Lambert also reached second base both times, but was picked off by Duke early and Lambert was stranded again when Duke struck out two batters to end the one-out threat in the fifth.
The Bulldogs had eight hits in the game with Aaron Fox leading the way with a perfect 3-for-3 night and an RBI.
Ben Taylor (2RBI, RS), Michael Allen (BB, RBI), Knox Barnes (RBI), Duke (RBI), and Cameron Whittaker (BB, 2RS) all had one hit apiece in the contest.
"Some guys are finally coming around that have had kind of a quiet start to the year and we need them to stay hot for us to have a chance in this thing," Putnam said. "We had some frustration early in the year, leaving guys on base, so I think we are breaking out of that."
Duke struck out the side in order in the top of the first inning and the Bulldogs came up with two runs in the bottom the inning when Hampshire allowed one to cross home plate on an error and Taylor knocked in the second with a fielder's choice.
Cornersville broke the game open in the bottom of the third, scoring six runs on four hits to take an 8-0 lead.
"When Graham is on the mound, we know we have a good shot," Putnam said. "We let one get away last week when we kicked it around a little bit, so it was good to back him up with some runs and defense and get out of here."
Duke set the Hawks down in order in the third inning and the Bulldogs made it a 10-0 contest on RBI base hits by Duke and Fox in the home half of the frame.
The Hawks no answer for Duke the rest of the way as the crafty right-hander struck out five out of the last seven batters he faced in the game.
"He got ahead, was able to take control their bats and got them on their heels," Putnam said.
Hampshire 000 00-0 2 4
Cornersville 262 0X-10 8 0
Hampshire: Chase Lambert 2-2.
Cornersville: Aaron Fox 3-3, Graham Duke 1-1, Ben Taylor 1-3, Michael Allen 1-2, Knox Barnes 1-2, Cameron Whittaker 1-2.
RBI: Ben Taylor 2, Michael Allen 1, Caleb Crowell 1, Aaron Fox 1, Graham Duke 1, Knox Barnes 1.
WP: Graham Duke (5IP, 2H, 0R, 0ER, 13K, 0BB)
LP: Aaron Rochelle