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Fernandedz tosses no-hitter

April 10, 2015

By CHRIS PRIDE – Bulletin Sports Writer

It took Rockingham Community College (N.C.) 102?3 innings to record its first hit against Patrick Henry Community College (PHCC) pitching Wednesday.

Conversely, it took PHCC’s offense just one inning to pour on the hits and runs.Behind an eight-run first inning in Game 1 of Wednesday’s doubleheader at Hooker Field and a no-hitter by David Fernandez, the Patriots downed the Eagles in a pair of seven-inning games for a Region X sweep. Rockingham was able to cut a 5-0 deficit in Game 2 to one but couldn’t manage the split as PHCC won by scores of 11-0 and 5-4.Fernandez was dominant over his seven innings of work. He allowed only three base runners all game — two by error and another on a hit-by-pitch — none of which made it past second base. He had no walks and five strikeouts in under 80 pitches, and reached a three-ball count just once in the 23 batters he faced.It wasn’t Fernandez’s first no hitter, having thrown one about three years ago in his native Puerto Rico, but it was his first at the collegiate level.“I can’t even explain it, it just feels really good,” Fernandez said about the Game 1 no-hitter. “I felt like I had a good approach with my curve ball and working the plate.”The eight first-inning runs of support also helped ease Fernandez into his start, he said. The Patriots (26-9) sent 12 batters to the plate that inning and scored more runs and recorded more hits in that inning alone than the Eagles had for the entire 14 innings. Bassett High School graduate Nic Keister scored a pair of runs while Tunstall grad Daymon Totherow had a pair of hits, an RBI and run scored as well.“David’s performance goes without saying, just a spectacular game,” PHCC coach Lucas Jones said. “You think about the back end of the season and then in the postseason where you need to win at least four games to be champion. You need that fourth guy and even a fifth and sixth if you fall into the loser’s bracket. David give us a little more depth with our starting pitching.”Fernandez threw 17 pitches in the fifth inning — his most — and needed just four pitches to get out of the sixth inning. His hit batter to start the seventh, broke a stretch of nine straight batters retired.Besides the torrid first inning, the Patriots’ offense went through a few lulls during portions of both games. The offensive drop off was more evident in Game 2 after the Patriots scored twice in the first inning. In the final three innings of Game 1, PHCC scored three runs on seven hits, after Jones got his players to refocus at the plate.“It can sometimes be a double-edge sword because you hit that lull in the middle of the game, put it into coast mode and your approach at the plate changes,” Jones said of his observations during a few mid-game at bats. “That was a little frustrating but we were able to still scrap across a few more runs late in (Game 1) which I was pleased with.”The Patriots scored runs in five of the 12 innings they batted. There were three innings in which PHCC was held without a hit — all in Game 2. Regardless, Totherow said the run-producing first innings played a key role in earning the doubleheader sweep.“It can give us a lot of confidence as long as we take it and don’t coast,” Totherow said of the early runs. “We kind of started to coast there with some zeros but it definitely helps you be more relaxed at the plate.”Like Keister, Totherow scored a run in the first inning of both games. He was 3-for-4 in Game 1 and bumped his batting average to an astounding .460 following his 4-for-6 day.Magna Vista grad Dillon Crowder added a pair of hits and RBIs while Bassett grad, and new starting shortstop Jonah McReynolds, went 2-for-4 with three walks, a run and an RBI.Miguel Lopez earned the win in Game 2, going five innings and allowing one run on two hits. His double surrendered by Rockingham’s Daniel Kennedy with two outs in the fourth inning was the Eagles’ first hit. They jumped on reliever Matt Bergquist for three runs in the sixth before Mark Hendricks closed the door with four strikeouts over his 12?3 innings to pick up the save.The Patriots return to action at 1 p.m. Saturday for a doubleheader at Hooker Field against Lenoir Community College (N.C.) to start a three-game Region X weekend series.

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