By Bob Sutton
Special to The Alamance News
Williams pitchers Nate Billings and Trace Hicks felt pressure for a couple of different reasons, but they were feeling really good along with their Bulldogs teammates by the end of Tuesday night’s baseball game.
Williams nipped visiting Orange 1-0 in the Central 3-A Conference matchup behind a combined two-hitter.
“Definitely felt a lot of pressure,” Billings said of facing the Orange lineup.
Billings struck out two in four innings. Hicks threw three hitless innings with three strikeouts in relief.
“I just went out there and tried to get outs,” Hicks said. “I just tried to follow what (Billings) did.”
That was the right combination.
“Sometimes you have a plan for a game like this and it all works out,” Williams coach Jamie Athas said.
Billings helped set the tone.
“He knew what he wanted to do,” Athas said.
Orange coach Jason Knapp is a former Williams coach. Since he changed jobs, his Orange teams had been 2-0 against the Bulldogs.
“You tip your hat to them,” Knapp said. “It looked like we left our bats in Hillsborough. We didn’t really look comfortable up there at all.”
Billings escaped a second-inning jam and settled in. Orange had scored seven or more runs in six of its previous eight games.
The Bulldogs (6-3, 3-2 Central 3-A Conference) scored in the third inning on Aiden Pulliam’s two-out single. Angel Mora scored from second base ahead of Orange catcher Ryan Horton’s tag on a close play at the plate.
Athas said toppling Orange (7-2, 3-2) is a signal of the Bulldogs heading in the right direction.
“It was big,” Athas said. “Year to year, we’re a different team. When you play a team like Orange, you get a better idea of who you are.”
Panthers pitcher Josiah Gibbs posted a complete game, giving up seven hits with three strikeouts. Ethan George had two of Williams’ hits.
The teams will have a rematch Friday night in Hillsborough.
“We still got a lot more to do,” Billings said.