Clifton tosses No-No
Clifton tosses No-No
Heritage junior Trevor Clifton struck out 10 batters on his way to a no-hitter on Monday to give the Mountaineers a 2-1 win in their first game of the season against William Blount. Pitching and defense have been strengths this season for Heritage (3-2, 2-1 District 4-AAA). “Offensively is where we’ve got to better. We’re solid defensively,” Heritage coach Robbie Bennett said. “We’re solid on the mound. When any of our top four guys pitch, we’ve got a chance to win. We’ve just got to put up some runs.” The host Mountaineers scored in the bottom of the first when Clifton hit a ball to left center field to drive in Riley Melton. William Blount’s lone score of the game came in their next at-bat on a couple of errant Heritage throws. Clifton tried to pick off Ben Cash at first but overthrew the infielder and Cash made it to third before Heritage recovered. Clifton’s next pitch got by the catcher allowing Cash to come home. “I’m guessing it was a curve ball, went down and bounced off the guy’s glove, and scooted back behind him, and he couldn’t find it,” Cash said. It was a moment that William Blount (1-3, 0-3) was ready for, according to Governors coach Justin Young. “That was kind of our game plan. We had to get somebody on base because we knew as good of a pitcher as the Clifton kid is, he’s capable of throwing a ball at the backstop,” Young said. “So, we got a base runner, had an errant pick-off throw that got us to third, and then sure enough we had a ball get to the backstop and we scored. After that, we only had one other base runner, so he shut us down and we couldn’t do anything.” Heritage scored in the bottom of the second on Joshua Payne’s base hit and RBI. He drove in Tyler Hopkins from third. Payne hit the ball straight to second and it appeared to hit the bag and pop up in the air, giving Heritage runners a chance to advance. William Blount finished the night with three errors while Heritage had two. From that point, the game settled into a defensive battle, with Heritage getting one last hit in the fourth inning. “I’m a pitching and a defense kind of guy. I enjoyed the pace of the game,” Young said. “Both pitchers were out there competing with each other, trying to put up zeroes. Their kid, Clifton, did outstanding, phenomenal.” It was three up and three down the last three innings, with Moths and Clifton keeping batters in check. Cash came in as relief for Moths in the seventh inning, and Clifton finished the game with his second win of the season. “He gave up three hits and had 13 strike outs (last) Monday against Lenoir City. Jordan Norton threw well against Farragut,” Bennett said. “I’ve got a lot of confidence in our whole pitching staff, from Trevor to Jordan Norton, to Tyler Hopkins and Jacob Burns. I have confidence in our defense.” Heritage hosts Catholic at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday while William Blount travels to Lenoir City for a 6 p.m. district game.