It wasn’t a no-hitter, far from it. Heck, it wasn’t even a shutout. But Hudson Barrett’s follow-up performance from last week’s pitching gem might have been even more impressive.
Frontier’s 6-foot-3 junior left-hander, who tossed the school’s first no-hitter in his last start a week ago, pitched a complete game against SWYL leader Centennial, striking out 11 to lead the Titans to a 4-3 victory at the Hawks Nest on Thursday.
“It feels great,” Barrett said. “I had my really good guys behind me, making plays for me, so I just felt really good to just pound the zone and let them hit the ball.”
On the heels of holding Bakersfield hitless in his last start, Centennial (11-5, 8-4) needed just one pitch to erase any thoughts of a repeat performance.
Golden Hawks lead-off hitter Korey Likens lined Barrett’s first offering into the left-field corner for a double. It was the beginning of a rough start for Barrett. He hit the next batter and then loaded the bases following an error on shortstop Brendan Dominguez. After retiring the next two batters, Barrett hit Ryan Redstone to tie the score at 1. He recovered to strike out Jordan Mora to end the inning.
“That first inning, the leadoff hitter is a really good hitter and he guessed right,” Barrett said. “I have to give my hat to him. But then I didn’t really execute my pitches and hit a couple guys.
“But when I was in the dugout I was thinking, ‘hey man, just pound the zone, get ground balls and make my guys work.’ And it produced well for me later.”
In the top of the inning, Frontier (7-6 overall and in SWYL play) jumped on Golden Hawks starter Tim Ruiz. Jaycob Villalpando led off with a single and later scored on an RBI-single by Barrett for an early 1-0 lead.
Barrett recovered from his early troubles and settled in, retiring the next seven batters he faced, as his team added solo runs in the third and fourth to take a 3-1 lead.
“That’s what he does,” said Frontier coach Brandon Boren of Barrett, who finished with 99 pitches. “And that’s what I love about him. We talk about it all of the time, baseball players having a short memory, and being able to get to the next pitch. Regardless of what happened, regardless of how good it is or if it’s a disaster that happens, you always have to get to the next pitch. And he’s a guy that we never have to worry about that with.
“When adversity gets ratcheted up, he gets better. Because he bears down and he competes, as opposed to guys who kind of go into their shell when things start to get tough. He’s the guy we want on the mound in that situation. So I wasn’t too worried in the first inning.”
Centennial’s Drew Townson stalled Barrett’s momentum a bit with a lead-off home run in the fourth — his fourth of the year — and Redstone followed with a single, the first two hits off Barrett since the first inning.
But Barrett struck out the next two batters and picked off Redstone at second to end the inning and preserve a 3-2 lead.
The Titans added a run in the top of the seventh off Golden Hawks reliever Tanner Forbus, giving Barrett the cushion he needed to close things out.
After striking out pinch hitter Kyle Morales to open the seventh — Barrett’s 11th of the game — No. 9 hitter Vincent Jarrard reached on an infield single. He moved to second on a ground out by Likens and then scored on a single by Forbus. But Barrett enticed Spencer Jenkins to pop out to end the game.
It was Barrett’s second straight complete game. He hadn’t pitched past the fifth in his first five starts of the season. He wound up with two strikeouts in each of the first, second, fourth, fifth and sixth innings.
“He was very impressive today,” Centennial coach Dan Durham said. “At times it felt like his fastball was dominating. But our kids battled and took some good hacks, and put us in position to maybe walk this thing off in the bottom of the seventh like we’ve done a few times here. That’s all you can ask for against a good pitcher is to be able to be in a position to win a ball game in the last inning. So, I was proud of our kids the way we continued to battle at ABs and fight off pitches. We’re were just one swing away from maybe getting a W today.”
Frontier took a 2-1 lead in the third when Villalpando led off with a double and scored on a single by Jonathan Leal. The Titans added another in the fourth, when Richard Berg led off with a single, stole second and one out later scored on a base hit by Markus Fleischer. Frontier had the lead-off man reach base in each of the first five innings.
Leading 3-2 in the sixth, Centennial threatened when Kaden Solf led off with a solid single to center, but after Barrett struck out Townson, he was picked off first. Redstone’s pop up landed between three Titans’ fielders in short right-center field, but Barrett struck out Jordan Mora to end the inning.
“That was exciting because that game had a familiar feeling in the sixth inning,” Boren said. “We’ve had a couple games before where we’ve had a one-run lead in the sixth and things kind of fall apart. So I was curious to see how they’d respond. And luckily Hudson was at about the 80-pitch mark so we knew that that game was his and he responded and did extremely well.”
Frontier scored its other run in the seventh when Blake Edgmon, who reached second when his long flyball to left bounced off Jenkins in left field in the third, doubled and scored on a RBI single by Dominguez to make it 4-2.
“We talked about it after the BHS series, this is going to feel like a playoffs has started with this three-game series,” said Boren of playing against the Golden Hawks. “And I think our guys responded to that really well.
“And Hudson was Hudson Barrett. That’s the way he’s been all year. His command was really good and the one thing we know is, he’s going to compete. He’s going to compete like crazy when he’s on the mound and he did today. That was an awesome win.”