By Brian Pitts
Davie Enterprise Record
The Mocksville Legion baseball team was unable to put together any sustained offense against three Lexington pitchers Sunday night at Rich Park.
No Matter. Mocksville emerged with a 3-2, non-league victory because of the complete-game pitching of Josh Faircloth.
Boy, was Faircloth good. He hurled a two-hitter with one walk and seven strikeouts. Both runs were unearned.
“Excellent,” coach Charles Kurfees said of Faircloth after he lifted Mocksville to 4-2 overall and dropped Lexington to 0-3. “What we’re looking for this year is to get him in that rotation. He’s battling for one of those spots. Hey, he did a great job. If we make a couple plays, they don’t score anything.”
Mocksville committed two errors in the first, when Lexington took a 1-0 lead. Mocksville committed two errors in the fifth, when Lexington tied the game at 2.
In regard to hits, Lexington only mustered a single in the fourth and a single in the sixth. Faircloth got stronger as the game progressed, retiring 11 of 12 between the sixth and ninth. The exception was batter who reached on an error. He only needed 103 pitches, or 11.4 per inning. After throwing 21 pitches in the first, he threw 10, eight, 11, 12, 14, eight, nine and 10 from the second through the ninth.
Oh, and one more thing: From the 2000 season to the present, this is the only nine-inning two-hitter that can be found in a span of 362 games. John McDaniel produced something similar in 2007 when he gave up three hits in 10 innings.
Faircloth is far from flashy. He won’t overwhelm anyone with his fastball. But he understands how to pitch.
“We were mixing his fastball and changeup,” pitching coach Todd Bumgarner said. “He was missing early with his breaking stuff, so we started mixing up his fastball and changeup and moving his fastball in and out. He got a lot of ground balls and popups.”
Faircloth had worked three innings before Sunday. He chopped his ERA from 6.00 to 1.50.
“He stayed ahead in the count,” Bumgarner said. “Later on in the game, he was able to get command of his curveball, too, and that gave them another look.”
Kurfees rested starters Karch Arey and Will Beeson with a string of division games coming up. The offense did just enough - eight hits, five walks, three hit batsmen - to keep Mocksville headed in the right direction.
Corey Randall’s first-inning single scored Brice Merritt to tie the game at 1. Jacob Walker singled and came around on Ross Hoffner’s single as Mocksville went in front 2-1 in the fourth. With the score 2-2 in the sixth, Mocksville produced the decisive run.
Ben Temple singled, Hoffner was hit by a pitch and Merritt walked. That set the stage for Ryan Foster, who blistered the tiebreaking single to left.
Foster and Hoffner led with two hits each. Hoffner’s double to deep left-center was Mocksville’s lone extra-base hit. Kurfees was happy to see Hoffner have success at the plate after entering the game 0 for 5.
“He about hit one out of the ballpark,” he said. “(The double) was about as deep as you could hit it. If he pulls it, he hits it out.”
Hoffner caught all nine innings and did a fine job. He has embraced a secondary, yet important, role. Beeson, the regular catcher, has to rest from time to time. Hoffner will catch all non-league games and an occasional league game. Kurfees wasn’t sure how the transition from Davie JV infielder to Legion catcher would develop, but Hoffner has eased concerns.
“Another guy who gets a lot of credit in this game is Hoffner,” Kurfees said. “You’ve got to attribute a lot of the pitching to the catcher, too.”
Pete Rose once said, “I’d walk through hell in a gasoline suit to play baseball.” Kurfees suggested the gritty Hoffner has a little bit of Pete Rose in him. He plays with passion that’s hard to match.
“Ross loves to play baseball,” he ...