ZACHARY — When Zachary pitcher Anthony Fidanza walked the bases loaded with two outs in the top of the fourth inning against Scotlandville on Thursday night, he wasn’t worried about blowing a lead.
The Broncos were winning 7-0 at the time, so allowing a run or two wouldn’t have made much of a difference.
He just didn’t want Zachary coach Jesse Cassard to make him do bear crawls across the field after the game.
“I didn’t want to hear coach yelling at me,” Fidanza said. “I didn’t want to see my teammates down in the dugout.”
Fidanza responded with his third strikeout of the game to end the inning and successfully escape the most stressful moment of the night for Zachary.
He put the Hornets to rest for good in the next inning as the Broncos defeated Scotlandville 12-0 in five-innings to open District 4-5A play.
“We told the guys that today is the first day of the rest of the season,” Cassard said. “We’ve played a few games like this, but not many.
“(Fidanza) is our No. 2 guy on the mound, so we didn’t take this game lightly. (Scotlandville) has 15 wins on the season, so it wasn’t like we were expecting to come in and walk all over them.”
The Broncos’ right-hander said his goal for Thursday was to fully establish himself as Zachary’s No. 2 pitcher, and felt he went a long way in achieving that goal by allowing only two hits in a complete-game shutout.
Fidanza said the fact his offense gave him so much cushion to work with on the scoreboard was a major factor in his confidence on the mound.
It didn’t take long for Zachary to secure a comfortable lead as the Broncos jumped on a pair of mistakes by Scotlandville first baseman Marquel Griffin in the second inning for three runs.
Scotlandville coach Darren Clark called the errors the turning point of the game for the Hornets, saying team morale plummeted in the dugout.
“Our pitchers came out good, but there was just a few key mistakes that killed us,” Clark said. “The team’s head went down and they were saying, ‘Here it goes again.’ That kind of threw us off. Momentum changed, and Zachary started scoring runs.”
Scotlandville starting pitcher Destin Dotson was pulled in the fourth inning despite allowing only two earned runs on two hits, but the errors handed the Broncos five more unearned runs.
Zachary shortstop Jacob Payne had three RBIs and a run on two hits, including a two RBI double that bounced off the left field wall.
Seven of Zachary’s starters scored at least one run, with four scoring multiple times.
“One thing that we’ve done well the last few weeks is our small ball,” Cassard said. “When we do those things, and then our pitchers throw strikes, we give ourselves a chance.”