East Hamilton didn't have its best baseball game of the year Tuesday, but the Hurricanes didn't have to. Patrick Parris was pitching.
The 6-foot-4 junior right-hander went six innings and allowed just two hits while striking out 12 and walking two in the Hurricanes' 9-4 District 6-AA victory.
"East Hamilton is a good team, but their starting pitcher is a pretty good player," Hixson coach Ted Mulder said. "He was getting ahead of our hitters, and sometimes we show way too much patience at the plate. I'd like to see us be a little more aggressive."
The win, which came with two Hurricanes starters absent because of a school trip, pushed Parris to 4-0.
East Hamilton had a 7-1 lead after its fourth at-bat and seemed to lose its focus, allowing the Wildcats to score three in the bottom of the inning. It started with a walk and the first hit Parris allowed, a run-scoring double by Brad Peters, but then there were two errors and a fielder's choice that scored two more.
"Looking at it from a positive point of view, there hadn't been a whole lot of balls hit for us to field," Hurricanes coach Steve Garland said.
He was right. At one point after the Wildcats scored their three-spot, Parris struck out six in a row - the last hitter of the fourth, three in the fifth and the first two batters he faced in the fifth.
"I like to pitch," said Parris, who's in his fifth year on a mound. "I pitched pretty well, I guess, but it wasn't my best."
Garland loves to put Parris out there.
"I'm guessing here, but I would bet his strikeouts-to-walks ratio is 4-to-1 at the worst," the coach said.
Parris staked himself to a 1-0 lead in the first inning with a single scoring Brandon Williams, who had doubled to right field.
He nurtured that lead until the fourth when the Hurricanes parlayed four walks and three hits into six runs. The key hits were a two-run single from Williams and a bases-clearing, two-out double from Nick Ungos.
"We try to impress on the kids that two-out hits are often the difference in a game," Garland said.
They were this time, and that proved to be crucial after Hixson's outburst in the bottom of the inning.