Cave masterful in 4-1 win over Menchville

Wayne GomesMemorial Stadium

Of all the things working for Jake Cave on Friday night, none were bigger than his curve ball and the count. The curve was breaking for strikes, and he was staying ahead of the batter.

The result: A 14-strikeout, one-walk masterpiece that carried Kecoughtan to a 4-1 win over Menchville at War Memorial Stadium. The Warriors (9-4, 8-3 Peninsula District) scored four unearned runs in the third inning off two Monarch errors, which was more than enough.

Cave had been having issues this season with falling behind in the count, which led to high pitch numbers. In the earlier meeting against Menchville on March 22, he threw 86 pitches in three innings. But on Friday night, he got the complete-game win on 108 pitches.

"I had a good talk with Wayne Gomes, who's a good family friend," said Cave, referring to the former Phoebus and Major League pitcher. "He told me he had some trouble with that coming up through the minors.

"So if I come in 90 (miles per hour) from the left side, a first-pitch fastball, you have to be a good hitter to hit that. I'm just saying, 'Hey, if you can hit it, congratulations.' If not, I'm ahead in the count."

Cave (3-2) was rarely behind. He didn't get to three balls in the count until the fourth inning. His only walk came in the sixth. It was similar to his 15-strikeout performance in a no decision against the Monarchs last season.

After giving up a lead-off single to Evan Forrest on his third pitch, Cave struck out 10 of the next 11 batters he faced. His curve ball, generally not considered one of his out pitches, was more effective than usual.

"I'm more confident in it now," he said. "Scouts are saying they want to see more curve balls and I've been working on it a bit. I was working on a slider at first, but it wasn't working for me. So I went back to a simple curve ball, and it's starting to feel really good coming out of my hand."

It was the second time this spring that Cave was matched up against Menchville's Deshorn Lake in a battle of two pitchers expected to be early-round draft picks. Lake also went the distance and struck out 11 while walking six.

Lake might have ended up with a shutout if not for a shaky third inning in the field. With Cave at second and Brandon Robinson at third with two out, Nate Matheson grounded along the line to third base. But John Woodard's throw skipped past Forrest at first base, allowing both runners to score and make it 2-0.

The next batter, Darnell Ware, hit a high chopper to third for an infield single. But Woodard's throw again was low, and Matheson came around to score. Tim Robinson then singled up the middle to make it 4-0.

"When you have two high-caliber pitchers like this, you can't have mistakes on defense," Menchville coach Phil Forbes said. "When you don't hit the ball and have a couple of errors, it's hard to win against a high-caliber pitcher like (Cave)."

With Friday's games, the standings remain log jammed at the top. Woodside (9-2, 8-2) is in first place by a half-game over Kecoughtan and Menchville.

KECOUGHTAN 4, MENCHVILLE 1

Menchville;000;100;0—1 4 2

Kecoughtan;004;000;x—4 3 3

WP: Cave (3-2). LP: Lake (4-2). Standouts: Kecoughtan, Cave 14 strikeouts; Ware 2-3. Records: Kecoughtan 9-4, 8-3; Menchville 9-3, 8-3.

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