By Bob Sutton
Special to The Alamance News
Tate Jones didn’t sense that he was in a groove, but it didn’t matter for the Williams baseball team.
The junior right-hander had the right combinations to subdue host Western Alamance in Wednesday night’s 12-2 victory in the Central 3-A Conference.
It was an important result for the Bulldogs, who dropped an 8-5 decision a night earlier to Western.
So both teams had positive moments as they split conference games, each team winning on the road.
“We’re not getting swept,” Jones said of his thoughts. “I’d better bring my stuff.”
He accomplished that by holding the Warriors (5-9, 4-4) to two hits. He struck out five without a walk.
“I was not feeling my best,” Jones said. “What separates you is how good are you on your bad days? My defense really had my back.”
Williams coach Jamie Athas said Jones put the Bulldogs (11-6, 6-4) in a good frame of mind even without his best deliveries.
“It’s still a good night,” Athas said.
The same could be said for Williams shortstop Ethan George, who drove in five runs. He produced the game’s first run with a two-out RBI single in the third inning to break through against Western starter Shepherd Goodwin.
George doubled and scored in the fifth, supplied a sacrifice fly in the sixth and drilled a three-run home run in the seventh. It was the first high school homer for the senior.
“It was perfect to do it against them,” said George, who attended Western Middle School before shifting to Williams in high school.
After next week’s spring break, the Bulldogs have only two league games remaining. They needed the bounce-back outcome.
“Coming off (Tuesday) night was tough,” George said. “Now it sets us in a good place.”
The Warriors had a better feeling when they departed Williams on Tuesday night.
Western broke a 5-5 tie in the seventh, with Aiden McCandless sparking the three-run rally with a triple, and Jacob Miles and Tyler Atkins provided run-scoring singles. Zack Oakley threw 4 1/3 hitless innings in relief with seven strikeouts and no walks.
Oakley said even with some discouraging results the Warriors keep plugging away.
“It’s just the fight we have,” he said.
Western coach Mitch Carter said a challenging non-conference slate has helped prepare the Warriors for rigorous situations.
“We’re battle-tested,” he said. “In conference play, our goal is you want to sweep. But the bare minimum you want to split.”
Tuesday’s result was frustrating for the Bulldogs.
“The good thing is in baseball you have another day,” Athas said. “In this case, it was the next day.”
On Wednesday night, Will Cooper and Vince Coker also knocked in runs for Williams, and Dan Mahan doubled and scored in the sixth.
Western didn’t score until a two-out error in the seventh accounted for its first run. Then Parker Queen roped an RBI double for the other run.
By then, the Warriors had pretty much squandered any chance at topping Williams twice in two nights.
“To come out here and do this is not ideal,” Oakley said.