Starting pitcher Trevor Roof got Flowery Branch off to an ideal start in Region 8-AAAAA. On Monday, he needed just 45 pitches for the Falcons (6-1, 1-0) to take down Cedar Shoals 15-0 in three innings at the Hog Mountain Sports Complex.
The left-hander pitched himself out of a jam after allowing two Jaguars runners into scoring position in the first inning, and received a great defensive play in the second inning on a slow-rolling bunt down the line from third baseman Trey Groves to throw out the hitter at first base. Falcons coach Scott Myers said Roof had endured two shaky outings heading into the region opener against the winless Cedar Shoals (0-7, 0-1).
“Trevor got out there, threw strikes and pounded the zone,” said Myers.
Roof adds depth to a rotation, helmed by Georgia Tech-bound senior right-hander Jonathan Hughes, who plays shortstop when not on the mound. On Wednesday, left-hander Jackson Harrell will start for Flowery Branch in the rematch against Cedar Shoals in Athens, according to Myers.
The only trouble Roof faced came in the first inning, after Jamichael Baldwin singled and Jorge Pascual was hit by a pitch with two outs.
Both runners advanced to scoring position with a ball that crept past Flowery Branch’s catcher, but Roof got out of the inning without any damage when Drew Herndon grounded into a fielder’s choice to Groves, who ran down the trailing runner coming from second base.
“I kind of messed up when I hit the guy there in the first inning,” said Roof. “But the defense made plays behind me to get us out of the inning.”
Andrew Nolt and Stephen Skeggs gave Flowery Branch much of its offensive punch. Nolt finished a home run shy of the cycle, while Skeggs had a pair of doubles with a single. Derek Eder hit safely twice for Flowery Branch, while left-handed Marq Kilcoyne reached base all three plate appearances with a walk.
Nolt was hitting ropes all night. On the first pitch in the first inning, he drilled a triple off the wall to right of center field.
To open up the second inning, he put a 2-1 pitch into the right-field gap. Skeggs followed with a stand-up double.
Both Nolt and Skeggs scored when a throw down from the catcher to second base on a pick-off attempt went into center field, with no one covering the bag.
After the first two runs of the eight-run second scored, Eder had an RBI single, Kilcoyne drew a walk to load the bags and Roof walked to draw another run. Bailey Godfrey and Nolt tacked on two-run singles in the second inning, followed by Skeggs’ RBI double.
In the opening frame, Flowery Branch put four runs on the board with the help of four stolen bases, two by Hughes after a walk.
After Nolt’s lead-off triple, he scored on a passed ball. Eder drove in a run with an infield single on a 3-2 count with two outs. Roof drove in the final two runs of the inning with a single that came down in shallow center field.
Flowery Branch scored the final two runs in the bottom of the third inning with grounders not fielded cleanly by the Cedar Shoals shortstop.