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Cutters swept at home by Tri-City
July 13, 2012 - Mitch Rupert
By MITCH RUPERT
The rhetoric has been just about the same every night for Williamsport manager Andy Tracy. He knows those who listen to it are probably even tired of hearing him talk about it.
But everything the Crosscutters are suffering through right now, including Friday's 7-2 loss to Tri-City, is all part of a process. It's part of a process that is going to help the youngest team in the New York-Penn League grow into the next crop of top Phillies prospects.
In front of 2,666 fans at Bowman Field on the Williamsport Sun-Gazette's Pack the Park night, that process included giving up four two-out runs. It included surrendering 14 hits, the fifth consecutive game the Cutters' pitching staff has allowed at least 10. That process included six errors, including three by shortstop Roman Quinn.
"It's baseball," said Cutters left field Larry Greene Jr. "It's going to happen. But it'll come around for us eventually."
Tracy was upbeat, as just about everyone in the clubhouse is, that for all the rotten times Williamsport is suffering through right now, eventually it has to turn around. A team with as much talent as the Cutters have can't possibly remain in the funk that's seen them lose 13 times in the last 17 games.
It's a stretch which includes seven consecutive home losses, and back-to-back home series sweeps at the hands of Mahoning Valley and Tri-City.
"I think all of us believe it's going to turn around," Tracy said. "We're talking about a lot of talented players here who are still learning the game. Tomorrow is a new day. We'll come back tomorrow and throw our hats and gloves on the field and see what happens."
Tri-City did most of its damage in the first four innings last night, extending innings with bleeders and flares and physical errors pieced together to form big innings. Tied at 1-1 in the third with two outs, Austin Elkins singled to left field and stole second base. Two pitches later Dan Gulbransen singled to left field to score Elkins.
Jesse Wierzbicki followed with a double to the wall in center field to score Gulbransen, and after a walk and a wild pitch, Wierzbicki scored of the second of Quinn's errors. In the fourth, Andrew Aplin, second in the NYPL in hitting, homered to right field off of Ramon Oviedo with two outs.
Getting to two outs was the easy part for Oviedo. In fact, in the first five innings, the first and second hitters of an inning were just 1 for 10 against Oviedo, making his Crosscutters debut, and reliever Nic Hanson. But the other 14 batters in those first five innings, they were a combined 7 for 14 with two doubles, a home run, three RBIs and four runs scored.
"Two-out ribbies always are going to beat a team," Tracy said. "Oviedo is solid. A couple innings he had six pitches through two hitters and then he seemed to go soft on us, change-up, curveball, instead of challenging. That's another process of learning how to pitch and how to play the game."
The 5-1 and 6-2 leads were more than enough for a Tri-City pitching staff which held the Williamsport offense to two runs or fewer in all three games. The ValleyCats' Vincent Velasquez, Brad Propst and Juan Minaya retired 16 of the final 17 batters they faced.
The one batter that reached base, Chris Serritella with a ninth-inning single, was erased on a double play.
"We're a younger team playing older teams and things snowball fast," Tracy said.
What the Cutters' near three-week stretch has snowball into is a 9-16 record which is last in the Pinckney Division, 8 1/2 games behind Auburn. Only Connecticut and Lowell have worse records, and Staten Island and Aberdeen are also 9-16.
Part of the process Tracy keeps talking about is learning from the things that went wrong last night, and trying to make sure they don't go wrong again. It's truly the beauty of baseball that no matter how long the struggles of the Cutters stretch, they'll get a chance every day to right the ship and turn into the team they truly believe they can be.
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RALPH WILSON/For the Sun-Gazette Roman Quinn lays on the ground after diving for, and missing a fly ball in left-center field as Brian Pointer picks up the ball Friday at Bowman Field.