Franklin senior pitcher Matt Goodman and his new catcher, junior Jackson Thornton, worked together for two months in anticipation of this baseball season.
Wednesday afternoon at Atholton, everyone saw how the hard work paid off.
With Thornton calling the pitches, Goodman threw a two-hit shutout as the Indians defeated the No. 7 Raiders, 6-0, in the season-opener for both teams. In the process Goodman matched his career high with 10 strikeouts.
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Atholton High School, 6520 Freetown Rd, Columbia, MD 21044, USA
"It feels great to come out here and beat a team of this quality," said Goodman, who was 4-2 with a 2.18 ERA last season. "It feels unbelievable. I couldn't have done it without Jackson. He knows all my pitches. It's unbelievable. He has a lot of control."
The Indians started strong at the plate, as well. Senior first baseman Andy Thompson hit one of his two doubles in the first inning, and he and J.J. Skaro both scored when Atholton pitcher Karter Seamonson walked three straight batters. Thornton then singled to give Franklin its third run of the inning.
Outfielder Ryan Silcott scored in the second, and Jordan Lee, who reached on one of Atholton's four errors, scored in the third, as did Thornton, who finished with two singles and a sacrifice.
Atholton sophomore Michael Slayton came in and shut down Franklin through the last four innings, but the Indians already had more than enough runs.
"Routine plays," Atholton coach Jon Dupski said. "We did not make routine plays, and their pitcher was effective. He had good off-speed pitches and could locate his fastball. It's unusual to see a pitcher go the distance this early, but I don't see anything wrong with it in this case. He had a low pitch count and was very effective throughout."
The win felt particularly good to the Baltimore County team that is trying to earn respect both in its own county and outside it.
"I know how people look at leagues," Thornton said. "I started out at Calvert Hall and then spent a year at Dulaney before coming here. It definitely felt good to win this game. The only difference I see between our team and, say, the private schools is that they get to start the season earlier. Other than that, I think it's the same in terms of discipline. Everyone is equally committed. I think we can go toe-to-toe with everybody."
Especially when Goodman has his pitches working. Wednesday, he allowed only two singles, one to junior Brian Harris in the third inning and one to junior Paul Burmester in the seventh.
"I couldn't be more proud of him," said Franklin coach Kyle Campbell, who takes over this season after three years as an assistant. "I've always said he's at least one of the best pitchers in Baltimore County, but no one believes it. But they're going to. To go against these guys, No. 7, and [throw a] two-hitter — he was lights out, unbelievable."