NORTON — When J.I. Burton catcher Markus Ward dropped his index finger to signal pitcher Caleb Daniels for a fastball, it came with plenty of zip Thursday night.
Daniels, a 6-foot-1, 220-pound junior right-hander, fired a three-hitter and struck out 10 batters in a 9-0 victory over Lee.
He also had pinpoint control, issuing just two walks.
“He’s a baseball player,’’ Burton coach Mike Goforth said. “That’s what Caleb does. He’s a good kid with a good work ethic.’’
Daniels (3-1) got solid defensive support from teammates. Burton (4-4) went after ground balls with efficiency and pulled one double play.
“Caleb threw really well,’’ Goforth said. “We actually made plays behind him — something we hadn’t done much of this season.
“We’ve been working on improving our defense. It hurt us in our losses.’’
The Raiders’ cupboard was almost bare when the season began.
“We have only three starters back from last year,’’ Goforth said. “We’re young — we’re learning. We’re trying to get better each game.’’
Jessee Coffey and Malik Miles provided all the firepower Burton needed at the plate. The two sluggers accounted for half of the Raiders’ 12 hits.
Coffey singled twice and doubled to drive in four runs. Miles had two singles and a triple.
“As our fourth and fifth hitters, that’s what Jessee and Malik are supposed to do,’’ Goforth said.
Lee coach Ray Robbins only needed to glimpse at the scorebook to see why the Generals were shut out.
“We got only three hits,’’ he said. “If you don’t hit the ball against a team like Burton, you aren’t going to win. (The Raiders) really stroked it tonight.’’
The loss was pinned on starter Chad Kelly.
“Chad had trouble finding his spots,’’ Robbins said, whose team fell to 2-6. “He finally found a rhythm but by then he’d reached the pitch limit we have him on. It was time to bring in Taylor Holbrook as a reliever.’’
The Raiders wasted no time getting on the scoreboard. A walk and stolen base by Cody Maggard, Daniels’ single, a wild pitch, Coffey’s walk, a single by Miles and an outfield error opened a 3-0 lead in the first inning.
Burton tacked on two more runs in the second when Hunter Farmer singled, Maggard walked and Coffey delivered a long single.
The Raiders increased the margin to six runs in the third. Nate Large walked, Cody Stallard sacrificed and Maggard belted a double.
Holbrook cooled the Burton bats temporarily.
The Raiders finished the job with four hits and three runs in the sixth. Ward and Daniels singled, Coffey connected for a two-run double and Miles ripped a run-scoring triple.
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