The Wayne County Jets have yet to put together a complete game on the baseball diamond this season.
Head coach Adam Pate caught glimpses of it Monday evening.
Tanner McKeel held Cary hitless for four innings and played flawless behind him during an 11-0, mercy-rule triumph at the Eastern Carolina Athletic Park.
A Louisburg College commit, McKeel posted three strikeouts and three walks in a 54-pitch outing. The right-hander pounded the strike zone, mixed his speeds and painted the corners with a delivery as smooth as a used car salesman.
Cary’s batters stayed baffled in the box all night.
“He does a good job of messing with people’s timing that are hitting against him,” Pate said. “But, it was really good to see him pitch well. He pitched a little bit in the Senior [Send-off] Game this past weekend, had yesterday [Sunday] off at our doubleheader.
“We wanted to pitch him tonight. It’s good when a plan comes together.”
Reliever Carson Gipson permitted a fifth-inning single and logged two strikeouts. Gipson and McKeel combined to face 18 batters and threw nine first-pitch strikes.
Pate gushed over McKeel and Gipson, who consistently stayed ahead of the hitters. That allowed the defense to relax and flash some leather, including a first-inning double play that squashed a potential Cary rally.
“Leading up to tonight, our pitching and defense hasn’t been good,” Pate said. “That’s what I want us to keep improving on and we did a good job of that.”
Meanwhile, the Jets’ offense continued to soar.
Sam Rice and Drew Spencer paced a seven-hit attack with two base knocks apiece. Rice delivered two RBI and stole a base, while Spencer doubled and swiped a base.
Clay Matthews, Case Kermode (RBI) and Will Albert (two RBI) each supplied one hit. Logan Price collected an RBI.
Wayne County (10-1 overall) benefited from three walks and five Cary errors.
“I really believe in freeing them up and letting them play, not just letting them run wild or run free, but at the same time they’re going to play better when they’re not thinking,” Pate said of the team’s offensive prowess.
“We just relax them, boost their confidence and just let them go. That carries over offensively to our approach of being aggressive, let me get my good swings off.”