Backed by a stingy defense, South Side Bee Branch right-handed pitcher Mason Duncan tossed a shutout as the Hornets stifled West Side 3-0 on Wednesday in a pivotal 1A-2 South Conference game in Greers Ferry.

Backed by a stingy defense, South Side Bee Branch right-handed pitcher Mason Duncan tossed a shutout as the Hornets stifled West Side 3-0 on Wednesday in a pivotal 1A-2 South Conference game in Greers Ferry.

Duncan struck out eight, allowed four hits and four walks, while the Hornets played near flawless in the field. In the fifth inning alone, South Side second baseman Riley Roberson made a diving catch, shortstop Austin Lewis tracked down a pop-up in shallow left field and right fielder Luke Pennington came up with a diving stab.

South Side generated all the offense it would need in the top of the first inning. Duncan poked a double to right field, where a bad hop allowed him to cruise into second base standing up.

After Duncan advanced to third on a balk, catcher Will Pennington beat out an infield single for an RBI that brought Duncan home as the Hornets took a 1-0 lead before West Side pitcher Bryce Hipp settled in, retiring five straight to get out of the first and breeze through the second.

“I  thought Bryce pitched a really good game,” said West Side manager Shane Davis. “He did a great job of pitching to contact and got hitters out early in counts which resulted in a very low pitch count (76).

“Our defense was good for the most past but we did have a few untimely errors. We just couldn’t get that timely hit today, left eight runners and four in scoring position.  Tip our hat to the Duncan kid. He was solid today and their defense was great,” added Davis.

West Side third baseman Ben Hargrove beat out an infield single in the bottom of the second and he stole second with one out. Following consecutive walks issued to first baseman Brandon Carr and left fielder Casey Hooten, Duncan left the bases loaded by inducing a pop-out and groundout.

Hipp, who only allowed six hits and one walk with four strikeouts, pitched around a one-out single by center fielder Garrett Collums in the top half of the third. Duncan responded by working around a one-out single off the bat of Blaine “Pepper” Hipp in the bottom half.

Blaine Hipp swiped second with two outs, but Duncan notched a strikeout to end the frame with South Side clinging to a 1-0 lead.

Luke Pennington reached on an error to start the fourth and he moved into scoring position on first baseman Colter Hinchey’s sacrifice-bunt. Bryce Hipp retired the next two on fly balls – one to Dalton Treece in right field and another to Mason Treece camped in center.

West Side appeared poised to mount a comeback in the bottom half of the fourth as Mason Treece walked and Carr pulled a single to left field, but Duncan retaliated with a strikeout.  The Hornets escaped the inning with the help of Lewis, who took care of two ground balls to shortstop.

Aided by solid defense, both teams went down in order in the fifth and South Side cushioned its lead in the top half of the sixth, starting when Will Pennington beat out an infield single on a sharp ground ball to the hole on left side, where Hargrove made a diving play to his left but didn’t have time to come up throwing.

Will Pennington stole second and scored on an RBI single by third baseman Brian Dumas, who poked the ball over the right side of a drawn-in infield. With two outs, left fielder Donovan Taylor laced a single to center that turned into an error, which allowed Hinchey to motor all the way around from first base.

With South Side leading 3-0, Bryce Hipp recorded a strikeout to leave Taylor stranded 90 feet away from home. But the damage was too much to overcome for West Side, which only mustered a walk by Carr in the bottom half of the sixth.

Bryce Hipp cruised through the seventh, retiring the side in order but Duncan struck out the first batter of the bottom half and retired catcher David Brown on a groundout to Dumas at third.

Down to its final out, West Side extended the game when Bryce Hipp legged out an infield single on a chopper to third base. But Dumas took care of the next ground ball to third as South Side closed out a 3-0 victory.

The Hornets improved to 7-3 overall and 3-0 in league play, while the Eagles fell to 7-1 overall and 2-1 in the conference standings.

Carr led West Side’s offense, finishing 1 for 1 with two walks. Bryce Hipp (1 for 4), Blaine Hipp (1 for 4) and Hargrove (1 for 3) also collected a hit for the Eagles, who committed two errors.

Will Pennington paced South Side’s offensive attack, going 2 for 3 with a run and RBI. Collums (1 for 4), Duncan (1 for 4), Dumas (1 for 3) and Taylor (1 for 3) each contributed a single for the Hornets.