The only problem for Johnson was that he was still a little nervous in the second inning even though he struck out the first batter he faced and retired three of four batters in the inning.
The only Bradley runner to reach base in the first inning was the result of catcher’s interference.
“I was still nervous in the second but after while it was like riding a bike,” Johnson said. “I had been waiting a long time for this. I’m glad it finally came.”
Johnson, a left-hander, transferred from Trevecca Nazarene last season and was required to sit out a year.
He pitched 5.1 innings and gave up only three hits and two runs, both earned. He struck out six and walked one on the way to his first win of the season as the Bisons beat Bradley 9-5 at Ken Dugan Field at Stephen Lee Marsh Stadium.
“My off-speed pitches did well,” Johnson said. “I located my fastball all right.”
Coach Jeff Forehand was not surprised at Johnson’s debut performance in a Bisons’ uniform. In fact, he was pleased with the efforts of all four of his starters.
“All of our starters this weekend gave us exactly what we wanted,” Forehand said. “We just have to get the bullpen straight and that will happen once they understand their roles.
“Some of them were nervous. The great thing about this weekend was that we got three wins and we got a lot of guys experience. The next time out they won’t be nervous.”
Right-hander Josh Cotham threw 1.2 innings. He allowed one hit and two runs. He struck out one of the five batters he faced.
Left-hander Blake Fonfara pitched two-thirds of an inning. He did not allow a run or a hit, but he walked one batter.
Right-hander Josh Chism earned his first save of the season with 1.1 innings of work. He gave up one hit and one run. He struck out a batter and walked one.
In the third inning Chism also had to fill in for third baseman Zach Messer who left the game early with a knee problem.
“We talk all the time about being ready to come off of the bench,” Forehand said. “Chism didn’t know he was going to have to come in and play third before he pitched. He thought we were going to use him out of the bullpen.
“But Messer went down so we had to go to Chism at third. He played a solid third base. Then he came in and closed the game out.”
The Bisons pounded out nine hits. M.L. Williams and Richie Goodenow each had two hits.
Logan Hostettler hit a home run and Goodenow added a double for the only extra base hits by the Bisons.
“Hostettler came in at the end as a defensive replacement and hits the ball out of the park,” Forehand said. “It was a lot of fun.”
The Bisons, 3-1, are back in action Wednesday afternoon at 3 when Western Kentucky visits. Forehand stressed to his players the need to maintain this early momentum and continue to progress.
“In years past it has taken us awhile to get going,” Forehand said. “Everybody was a little anxious until we got that first win. Now we need to build on it.”
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations.