HOSCHTON -- Finally, the walks stopped.
In Mill Creek's first five games this season, Hawks' pitchers walked 40 batters. Tuesday night alone, they walked 10 in a loss where the pitchers punched out 13 batters. But in his third start and after days upon days of listening to coaches harp on throwing strikes, Cody Pugh put it together.
The Hawks' junior tossed a complete-game, giving up two runs off five hits while striking out seven. He walked zero batters. Mill Creek won 4-2 over Brookwood.
"It was exactly what the doctor ordered," Mill Creek head coach Doug Jones said. "He came in and threw strikes."
Even the one hiccup of an inning, it was the Broncos' bats blasting the ball. With two outs, Brookwood strung together four of its five hits, capped off by a two-run double by Lucas Sims. The double scored Cedric Mullins and Jordan Dykes. Mullins went 2-for-3 and was the only Bronco with multiple hits to go with his four put-outs in center field.
"They just kind of hit a few balls," Pugh said. "The one (Sims) hit was right down the middle."
In other words, a strike.
Pugh coaxed a pop out after Sims' double and proceeded to retire 12 of the final 13 batters he faced. Three of his strikeouts came against the last five batters, including two in the seventh inning.
"He kind of smelled it at the end," Jones said. "He dug in and competed."
The two Broncos runs looked like they would hold up during the early innings, with Brookwood starter Allen Tokarz striking out two and allowing just a pair of hits in his first three innings. But with one out in the fourth, Mill Creek's bats backed up the pitcher. Tim Hernandez singled in a run and Dillon Kokinos' single to center scored two more. Tyler Boldt finished the rally with an RBI double.
Brookwood escaped a worse deficit in the fourth when left fielder Garrett Reynolds gunned down Boldt at home on a two-out single by B.J. Harmon to end the inning and save a run.
The runs all came off Tokarz, who allowed four runs off eight hits with three strikeouts over four innings in the loss.
Harmon ended the game 2-for-2 with a walk and Bryan Hudson went 2-for-3 with a run scored for Mill Creek.
"I don't care what people say, baseball is a game of momentum, just like other sports," Jones said. "We got it back."
And they never gave it up.
With a lead and an error-free defense behind him, Pugh began throwing harder despite pitching longer and throwing more pitches than he had all season.
"I was just trying to let them hit it and play defense," Pugh said. "It was just adrenaline, I felt like I was throwing harder."
He ended the game with a called strike three.
"It was easily, by far, our best game," Pugh said. "Hitting and defense"
Not to mention pitching.