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D-B's Brandon gets back on track against Central

Bill Lane • Apr 20, 2010 at 12:00 AM

BLOUNTVILLE — Kyle Brandon was like the Kyle Brandon of old Tuesday night.

The 5-foot-11, 170-pound right-hander fired a two-hitter, walked nobody and struck out 13 batters over the six innings he pitched in a 10-0 victory over Sullivan Central.

Brandon, a senior, appeared in only five innings last year because of a shoulder injury.

Even though his 2010 win-loss record is only 4-3, Brandon has rekindled the interest of college recruiters with his impressive comeback.

“Kyle has had some tough losses,’’ D-B coach Mike Ritz said. “In two games we didn’t score for him, and he lost another in relief.

“He throws a cutter, has a good curve, which he doesn’t use much, and gets up in the mid-80s with his fastball. Kyle had to do a lot of hard work to get back.’’

Brandon struck out at least two Cougars in every inning and allowed just three baserunners. One batter reached on an error.

He had two retirement strings, setting down five straight batters early on and then eight more in a row.

Matt Harmon singled in the first inning and Zach Lee got a hit in the fifth. That’s all Brandon gave up to the Cougars.

“My cutter is similar to a slider, only it doesn’t break as sharply,’’ Brandon said. “It’s effective if I keep it down in the strike zone.’’

Brandon burst upon the scene as a sophomore when he pitched a no-hitter against John Battle. Had it not been for walking the first batter, he would have had a perfect game.

“Brandon beat all of the all-star teams the summer after his sophomore year,’’ Ritz said.

Then misfortune came.

“I injured my shoulder in December 2008 by throwing too much,’’ Brandon said. “I feel good about the way I’m pitching now.’’

Brandon Krantz, Central’s coach, tipped his cap to Brandon.

“Kyle is one of the top pitchers in the Big 8 Conference,’’ Krantz said. “He does a good job keeping the ball down. He’s a dominant pitcher.’’

Brandon yielded to reliever Adam Mays in the seventh. Central loaded the bases with walks, but Mays was bailed out by a double play.

D-B had a 12-hit attack. Conner Gunn drove in three runs with a single and sacrifice fly. Will Allen homered to trigger a five-run rampage in the fourth. Nathan Millsap stroked a two-run double. Elijah Sutherland doubled and singled to account for two RBIs.

The loss was pinned on starter Holden Moles, who turned the ball over to Fred Taylor in the fourth inning.

“Our kids have to learn to compete every day with a passion for the game,’’ Krantz said.

D-B improved to 17-6 overall and 6-4 in the Big 8. Central slipped to 7-10, 3-7.

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