Williamsport Crosscutters defeated Trenton Thunder to move to 5-1-1 | News, Sports, Jobs
Before going to home plate in the fifth inning, Noah Hemphill watched two teammates walk four pitches and another bunt for a field goal. With the bases loaded and no one out of the way, the Williamsport Crosscutters right-back wanted to be both smart and aggressive.
He ambushed a fastball from the first pitch for Kyle Salley of Trenton and drove a two-run single to right field. This blow helped trigger an attack that had been called out in the first four innings. The Cutters wiped out a three-run deficit with a five-run fifth inning and screwed over two scrambled innings to claim a 9-7 victory over the Thunder at Bowman Field on a Memorial Day morning.
Despite 17 goals scored yesterday, the Cutters still had nine hits and their second-most points at the start of week two of the MLB Draft League.
“I wanted to see a pitch above the plate,” Hemphill said. “I didn’t have a red light on this ground. I knew the field was in the zone and I could drive baseball, so that’s what I did.
Conventional wisdom may have suggested Hemphill take a strike against a pitcher struggling to find the area like Trenton’s Salley. But Hemphill didn’t want to let a cookie go by without putting a swing in it.
It’s the same mindset shared by Billy Horton, director of The Cutters. What Hemphill did at a turning point was exactly what he wanted the Missouri Baptist sophomore to do. As it turns out, he not only scored a pair of runs, but also opened the door to a much bigger inning and a Williamsport lead never gave up.
“I still want to ambush there. If you throw a fastball at me on the first pitch in my zone, shame on me for not playing on it. “ Horton said. “The baseplate is 17 inches, and if it’s about an inch or two, or 16 or 17 inches, then I’ll take that. But if it’s in the middle of the plate, lead it, and it did.
Being stopped for the first four innings was not something this Williamsport offense has been used to in the first week of the season. The team is second in the MLB Draft League in points scored at 6.28 per game. Only Mahoning Valley’s unbeaten average of 6.67 points per game is higher.
But that didn’t particularly matter to Trenton starting pitcher Dylan Heid. The league leader in strikeouts dominated the Cutters for four innings with mostly a fastpitch. It was a firm fastball that peaked at 93 mph. But it was also a fastball that was well hidden and seemed to jump on Williamsport hitters. And beyond that, Heid was able to get those hitters to chase fastballs into the area.
Heid made seven strikeouts in a row between the first and third inning. The only baserunner he allowed came when Freddie Matos came back from a 0-2 count to work a walk down the first inning.
“He was doing a great job hiding the ball really well,” Hemphill said. “He was mixing up his location and had good speed on his fastball. We were trying to make adjustments and lengthen the barrel a bit more. “
“It’s about having a plan and we didn’t stick to our approach early on”, Horton said. “(Heid) did whatever he wanted with us. He was raising fast balls and we were chasing.
Heid was retired after four innings and 59 shots, much to the thrill of the Williamsport offense. And four hitters in the fifth inning when Hemphill delivered his shot with the Cutters trailing 3-0, it seemed to take the world’s weight off the Williamsport offense. 17-year-old wide receiver Jorge Rodriguez followed with a scorching RBI single down the left side. Kyle O’Brien added a single with two outs, two strikes and two runs later in the set to give the Cutter their first lead at 5-3.
Williamsport continued to add as Trey Steffler netted a two-out, two-run double on a 3-2 pitch down in the seventh inning. And recently added, Damone Hale smoked a two-run home run over the right-field fence at the bottom of the eighth inning for two key insurance runs.
“We were seeing this second pitcher a lot better,” Hale said. “We struggled very early on with the one guy, and when he came out we were able to take a break and reset. We were able to see the terrain much better and we were able to enjoy its somewhat wild character. We had him introduce us and we succeeded.
Hale’s two-run home run – just the second this season by the Cutters’ offense – proved critical when Trenton hitter Adan Fernandez threw a 412-foot, two-run home run in the start of the ninth handle. But Williamsport reliever Francisco Mateo got the next two strikeouts to extend the Cutters’ unbeaten streak to four games.
“It was important, first of all for the confidence of the team,” Hale said. “And we were able to beat a good team and maintain the winning streak. It’s big. “
“If we find ourselves in a match, we come back, and it happened” Horton said. “It happened in Trenton. It happened in West Virginia. And it happened again (Monday). There is no doubt in my mind that they believe they can win every day. “