Prep baseball: Flores shuts down St. Albans
With just six innings pitched in his team’s first 15 games, Nitro High’s Eddie Flores has been somewhat unknown throughout the Kanawha Valley.
On Monday evening, the hard-throwing sophomore introduced himself to the St. Albans lineup.
In just his second start of the season, Flores was impressive in tossing a complete-game three-hitter, helping lead top-ranked Nitro to a 14-2, five-inning mercy-rule win at St. Albans’ Loftis Field.
The Wildcats improved to 14-3, with only one loss to a West Virginia school this season.
Flores (2-1), whose fastball reaches the low 80s, struck out five batters and issued just one walk, while pitching from ahead in the count much of the evening.
During one stretch, Flores retired nine straight batters from the first to the fourth innings.
“My fastball and my slider were working well tonight,” Flores said. “At the end my change up was falling in pretty nice.
“If you can get ahead in the count, you can set up the rest of your pitches. I felt pretty good out there tonight.”
Despite the limited number of innings pitched this season, Flores’ performance was no surprise to Wildcats coach Steve Pritchard, whose team won its fourth straight.
“He did an outstanding job for us,” Pritchard said. “He got his fastball over and he was able to throw his curveball both for strikes and for swinging misses. He did a really nice job.
“We’ve got a deep pitching staff. We played five games at Myrtle Beach and not one pitcher threw two times. It’s nothing that he’s doing wrong, we just have a deep pitching staff and tonight was his turn.
“He’ll start again. In fact, the way he threw tonight, he’s capable of pitching a tournament game for us.”
Nitro also continued to swing the bats well, pounding out 14 hits, including six doubles, off of Red Dragon starter Peter Theodos (3-4) and reliever Joseph Call.
The Wildcats took a 1-0 lead in the second inning when Tyler Barton singled home Ryan McDonough, and stretched the lead to 4-0 with three more runs in the third inning.
Three straight two-out hits plated those runs, with Dylan Slack and McDonough smacking RBI doubles and Matt Harrison adding an RBI single.
The Wildcats continued to pour it on in the fourth inning in chasing Theodos from the mound with six more runs.
Flores started the fourth with a double, while Jacob Bradley and Jewell followed with RBI doubles.
Following an error and a hit batsman, Slack greeted Call with a two-run single. Slack scored the inning’s final run on a one-out, bases loaded walk by Barton that stretched the lead to 10-0.
“They had some good at bats and put some good swings on it,” Red Dragons coach Rick Whitman said. “Obviously, they hit the ball a lot better than we did.
“Our pitchers aren’t dominant enough to not hit their spots with the balls up. We got a few balls up and they did what a good team usually does, which is put good swings on the ball.”
St. Albans was able to dent the plate in the bottom of the fourth when Mitchel Laton drew a two-out walk from Flores, followed by a long two-run homer to left centerfield by Hunter Chandler to make it 10-2.
“I hung a curveball and he jumped on it,” Flores said of his only big mistake of the night.
The Red Dragons committed four costly errors on the night, something Whitman hopes to correct as postseason play approaches.
“We’ve got to get a lot better and we’ve got to figure some things out,” Whitman said. “It starts with the fundamentals. Throwing and catching the ball is something we’re struggling with right now and until we get better at that, we’re going to struggle against good teams that make routine plays, throw strikes and put the bat on the ball.
“You want to be getting better at this time of the year and we’ve got to find a way to help ourselves instead of hurting ourselves.”