There was no doubt who would start on the mound Tuesday for Douglas High in its Northern Division I baseball opener at home against McQueen.
Kyle Johnson, who had pitched a five-inning shutout to beat Truckee five days before, turned in two-hit, 13-strikeout performance for Douglas (5-1 overall, 1-0 league) in its 7-0 triumph against McQueen on a sunny and cool afternoon at Tiger Field.
“No doubt, he’s our guy; we feel pretty confident when he’s on the mound,” Douglas coach Bruce Jacobsen said of Johnson. “He’s as good as they come in this league. He’s a four-year guy on the mound; he’s put a lot of time in and all his hard work is paying off.”
Johnson only got stronger as the game went on, as he retired 14 of the last 15 batters he faced. The senior right-hander struck out the last four batters he faced and six of the last seven. He issued no walks in the game.
“I just wanted to pick it up and finish strong,” said Johnson, who has 22 strikeouts in his 12 scoreless innings so far this season. “I felt good today. I was locating my pitches well, my ball was breaking well and I think I threw harder today than I did Thursday (against Truckee).”
The game was still scoreless in the top of the third inning when McQueen put two runners on base with one out and the 2-3-4 hitters coming up, however, Johnson retired the side on a comebacker and strikeout.
Douglas took charge with a five-run rally in the bottom half of the inning. Cale Kynett hit a leadoff single and Kaleb Foster blasted a two-run home run over the right field fence. Cole Peck also hit a two-run single during the rally.
“It was good to put up a five-spot there,” Jacobsen said. “To get up early and get a little separation and take a little pressure off Kyle, so that was huge.”
Kynett added an RBI single in the fifth as Douglas scored two more runs.
Winning the league opener was important, Jacobsen emphasized.
“They’re all tough ... we’ll take any win we can get in this league,” he said. “McQueen is a tough team. They have some good athletes; we’ll have our hands full when we go up there Thursday.”
The Tigers played at McQueen Thursday (the score was unavailable at press time) and will be back at home Saturday against Hug.