It was gut check time for Josh Simpson on Thursday night.
The left handed hurler has been struggling with a groin injury but got the nod for Thursday night’s Union Legion contest versus Gaffney despite it.
Simpson told coach Tommy Ford he was good to go and would come out if the nagging pain got persistent.
“I just feel like I need to stretch it out,” Simpson said in the third inning.
The Wofford commit worked through it and the tossed a nine inning shutout, helping Union to a 6-0 win.
“He’s had that groin injury for a while and he’s just battled through,” said Ford. “Before the game he told me that we needed that win and he was gonna give it all he had. He’s done a great job for us all year, not just pitching, but hitting too. He’s one of the leading hitters in the league.”
Simpson went to work and kept Gaffney off the board in the first inning but gave up a hit.
He didn’t allow another until the ninth.
Gaffney gave up three runs in the first inning. After reaching first off a fielding error, Juwuan Rice stole second and took third off a balk. Devontae “Fox” Glenn singled, scoring Rice before he crossed home himself off a fielder’s choice. A second fielding error resulted in Adam Lawson plating Union’s third run of the inning before Gaffney forced a ground out to escape the inning.
Down 3-0, Gaffney received a pair of base runners in the second, but Lawson and Dylan Rogers snuffed them out with a double play. A fly out sent Union back to the dugout.
Charles Johnson drew a walk and Rogers beat out a throw to first but the two were left on and Simpson returned to the hill to record two strikeouts and a ground out in the top of the third.
Union received a single from Simpson in the bottom of the inning, one from Nathan Williford in the fourth and loaded the bases in the sixth off of two walks and a single from Jake Walton. However, Gaffney managed to hold Union off and keep the deficit at three.
Simpson looked shaky in the seventh, hitting the lead off to give Gaffney a runner. Union put the next batter of the inning away with a ground out to third before a second player took one in the shoulder to reach first. After a brief players conference on the mound, Rogers helped Simpson out of the inning with his second double play of the game and Union set the cruise control.
Glenn lined a single to right field to start Union off in the bottom of the inning. Simpson and Jake Arthur drew back to back walks while Walton used a fielder’s choice to score Glenn. Simpson and Arthur made their way around the bags to score the final runs for Union and Simpson rang up three straight batters in the eighth.
Gaffney kept Union quiet in the bottom of the inning and received its only other hit off Simpson in the ninth with a double to left field. Unruffled, Simpson forced a ground out to Walton at third, slamming the door on Gaffney and recording the shutout win.
Simpson finished the night with a two-hitter and nine strikeouts.