MARIETTA - If Tuesday afternoon was an audition for new Conyers pitcher Alan Busenitz, it's safe to say he earned at least start No. 2.
Busenitz pitched a complete game shutout and allowed three infield singles in a 5-0 victory over the East Cobb Titans in the opening game of the World Wood Bat 18-under National Tournament at Dominion Christian School.
Busenitz, a rising sophomore at Perimeter College, got ahead in counts with a good fastball (he threw a first-pitch strike to 17 of 23 batters) and put East Cobb's potent lineup away with an excellent curve ball.
"(Busenitz) got ahead and stayed ahead," said Conyers pitching coach Jody Gilbert. "The key to hitting is timing and we were upsetting (East Cobb's) timing ... he came out and challenged the hitters and looked good."
Busenitz, who had eight strikeouts and retired 11 of the last 12 batters he faced, was aided by some solid Conyers defense. Catcher Taylor Jackson threw out a runner trying to steal in each of the first two innings and the infield defense was steady, including shortstop Nick Woodward, who made four smooth plays to help Busenitz get his first win.
"Taylor was huge; he stepped up big," said Conyers head coach Eddie Bagwell. "This was the best game Taylor (has) caught for us. Nick Woodward ... played great defense."
On the flip side, East Cobb's defense faltered in the first inning and it allowed Conyers to score all the runs it would need. With two outs, Cameron Gibson reached on a fielder's choice and Travis Tarleton ripped a single. Anthony Bazzani followed with a grounder that East Cobb third baseman John Frost couldn't handle and Gibson scored to make it a 1-0 game. Jackson reached next on a dropped throw by first baseman Alex Edwards, which allowed Tarleton to score, and Brandon Crumbley followed with an RBI-single to put Conyers up 3-0.
"We took advantage of their mistakes, which is what you're supposed to do, and (we) don't apologize for it either," Bagwell said. "That put (East Cobb) on their heels."
East Cobb starter Luke Bole pitched effectively after the rough first inning. The left-hander didn't allow a hit until Crumbley served a two-run double to the opposite field in the sixth that put Conyers ahead 5-0. Bole, a Hartselle, Ala. native, scattered four hits and struck out two in a 92-pitch effort.
"Great start to a great tournament," said Bagwell.
Conyers continues pool play in the 190-team tournament, today at Mt. Paran Christian School. Post 77 is scheduled to start Anthony Bazzani against the St. Louis Pirates 18-under team.
Kurt Aschermann Jr. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org