Coming up clutch: Orange gets one big hit and takes down Patrick Henry in combined pitching shutout

Photo: Ryan Yemen

At this time of year, timing can be everything. Patience doesn’t hurt either. Orange County might have been out-hit nine to four against Patrick Henry, but with the Hornets issuing just one walk all night while the Patriots doled out six, the game came down to which team could cash in when it counted.


Orange County got the only big hit it needed early. After that, starter Cannon Davies, reliever Tucker Hensley and the Hornets’ defense behind them took care of the rest to pave the way for a 2-0 victory in the Region 5D quarterfinals and put Orange just a win away from qualifying for the Class 5A tournament.


“That was quick, fastest game of the year by far,” said Hornets coach Adam Utz. “That’s a scrappy team over there that we played last year and got beat 16-4. They’re well coached and so your hat is off to those guys but also hats off to our pitchers.”


In a game that took just under two hours to complete, Orange went to work quickly by putting runners on the corners with two outs thanks to a pair of walks to Davies and Keenan Williams. That set the table for Brett Jennings who cranked a 2-run double deep in the gap of right centerfield to give the Hornets an early advantage.


“I was seeing the ball pretty good there,” Jennings said. “It was a 2-1 count and I was expecting a fastball and just sat on it.”


Offensively, that was that for Orange. Patrick Henry starter Todd Kennedy gave up just three hits going forward and two more walks in his five innings pitched and his defense was stout behind him when the Hornets put the ball in play.


On the other side, Davies worked himself out of jams in the first and third innings. Patrick Henry had a runner in scoring position with one out in the first but the Hornets’ defense came up with a 4-6-3 double play to end that threat.


“We wanted to go out with fastballs and pound the zone and see how far they could hit them to be honest,” Davies said. “Pitching with the lead is always so much easier, it takes the stress off of you. But (Patrick Henry) battled, I’ll give it to them.”


Then in the third, the Patriots loaded the bases but Davies’ fourth of his five strikeouts on the night ended the inning with the shutout in tact.


“I didn’t think Cannon had his best stuff today but he still went out there and battled,” Utz said. “Tucker came in and just pounded the zone and that’s what we expect from him. He did some nice things with his curve ball and so I’m really proud of both of those guys.”


Hensley took over for the last three innings and gave up just two hits, no walks and struck out a pair in his save effort. The Patriots got a leadoff single in the top of the seventh to put the tying run at the plate but Hensley got a pop fly, a strikeout and another pop fly to end the game.


“Yea I was just trusting my catcher (Keenan Williams), trusting my stuff and trusting my team to play some defense,” Hensley said.


Offensively, Davies finished the game 1-for-2 with a walk as did Keenan Williams. Kyle Johnson was 1-for-2.  Jennings went 1-for-3 with the only RBI’s of the contest.

Orange will travel to play Potomac on Tuesday in the Region 5D semifinals.