CRESSON - Jextin Pugh victimized Jordan Fuller as he had so many other opposing pitchers in the last couple of high school baseball seasons, smashing a pitch to deep center field for a controversial first-inning home run.
In the past, Fuller might have needed to face a few batters to regain his composure. That was then, though, and this is now.
Fuller, Penn Cambria's hard-throwing senior right-hander, continued to cement himself as one of the very top hurlers in the area this season. He struck out 14 and held visiting Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic to four hits in handing the Marauders just their third loss of the season and their first setback in Laurel Highlands Conference Section 1 play, 8-2, on Tuesday afternoon.
"He's worked very hard. He has aspirations of being a college pitcher,'' Penn Cambria coach James Poldiak said of Fuller, now the pitcher of record in three of the Panthers' four wins. "He did a nice job for us in past years, and, this year, he's really matured into a quality pitcher.''
Fuller struck out the side in the sixth and fanned four batters in the fourth after one reached on a third-strike wild pitch. He's now struck out 43 and allowed just nine hits in 24 innings this spring.
He also hit a batter and walked one, bringing his season total of bases-on-balls to seven.
"Both my slider and my curveball have been working good for me. I had struggled hitting spots with them,'' Fuller said about the key to his improvement this season.
Fuller said he's also gotten better at not letting negatives play on his mind. The umpires conferred on Pugh's shot in the top of the first before ruling it a home run, but Panther center fielder Jake Schwaderer maintained the ball bounced up and hit him in the chin before going over the fence for what should have been a ground-rule double.
Fuller responded to retire the next seven Marauders as Penn Cambria scored three times in the third to take the lead for keeps. He even picked off the next BG batter to get a hit off him, facing two fewer hitters than the minimum in subsequent 4 innings.
"I'm getting better at that. You give up hits. He's a good hitter. It happens. I figured I was going to have a hard time pitching to [Pugh]. If he hit it, he hit it,'' said Fuller, who plans to pitch collegiately at Seton Hill.
By going 2-for-2 with both BG's RBIs, Pugh raised his average to .519. Guilfoyle entered the game at 7-2 overall and 3-0 in Section 1.
"The kid [Fuller throws hard and he throws strikes. He's tough,'' Bishop Guilfoyle coach Bill Wolf said. "We come up here, and we're missing two starters [catcher Mike Pleva and center fielder T.J. Krol] because of a field trip. We don't have enough quality players to be missing two starters, especially against a quality pitcher like him.''
Fuller got plenty of offensive support, as the Panthers strung together a season-high 11 hits. Joel Myers was 3-for-4, Fuller had two hits, and Brendan Eckenrode doubled and drove in runs with a bases-loaded walk in the fifth and a sacrifice fly in the sixth.
"When we get good pitching, we're a decent ball club. Hitting hasn't been a strength, but we've been streaky,'' Poldiak said. "It's kind of a cycle effect where one kid gets a hit, then another kid gets a hit and the confidence builds for everybody.''
Game notes: The Panthers improved to 4-4 overall and 3-1 in the section. ... Penn Cambria returns to action on Thursday at Forest Hills. Guilfoyle's next game is on Friday at Bishop Carroll.
BISHOP GUILFOYLE CATHOLIC (2): Irwin 2b-rf 300, Keller ss 311, Pugh 1b 212, Johnson 3b 200, Sweeney c 300, Berger dh 300, Gochnaur rf-lf 000, Stewart p-2b 301, Litzinger cr-p 100, Adams cf 300, Cursio lf-p 200. Totals - 25-2-4.
PENN CAMBRIA (8): Schwaderer cf 301, S. Itle 2b 411, Jo. Myers 1b 423, Jo. Fuller p 412, Mento cr 010, Vinglish rf 312, Z. Itle 3b 400, Ju. Fuller lf 200, Eckenrode c 201, Jones cr 010, Ju. Myers ss 311. Totals - 29-8-11.
SCORE BY INNINGS
Bishop Guilfoyle100 001 0-2 4 3
Penn Cambria003 122 X-8 11 0
E-Keller, Cursio, Irwin. LOB-Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic 4, Penn Cambria 10. 2B-Eckenrode. HR-Pugh. RBI-Pugh 2, Vinglish, Schwaderer, Eckenrode 2, Ju. Myers, Ju. Fuller. SAC-Schwaderer. SF-Eckenrode. SB-Vinglish 2, Jo. Myers, Keller 3, Pugh 3. PO-Litzinger.
Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic: Stewart (L)-4 IP, 10 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 4 SO; Cursio-1 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 2 SO; Litzinger-1 ip, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 SO.
Penn Cambria: Jo. Fuller (W)-7 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 14 SO.
Stewart pitched to two batters in the fifth inning.
Cursio pitched to two batters in the sixth inning.
HBP-By Jo. Fuller (Johnson), by Litzinger (Vinglish). WP-Stewart 2, Jo. Fuller, Cursio.
Umpires: Don Bachota (plate), Emil Isaacson (bases).
Records: Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic (7-3, 3-1 LHAC Section 1); Penn Cambria (4-4, 3-1 LHAC Section 1).