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Sanchez gives Cutters another strong outing

July 24, 2014 - Mitch Rupert
Whether starting or relieving, it's of no consequence to Feliberto Sanchez, just as long as he's on the mound.

When he's pitching doesn't matter. Just give him a chance.

The Williamsport right-hander isn't concerned with what his role is with the Crosscutters, and because of it he's become a valuable asset for a team which is now tied for the Wild Card lead in the New York-Penn League.

Thursday night his role was as a starting pitcher, and he excelled, throwing five innings allowing just one run, as Williamsport won its third consecutive game, 5-1, over Mahoning Valley. The Cutters are unbeaten during their current homestand and it was enough to tie them with Staten Island for the lead in the NYPL's Wild Card race. And a big part of the reason for the run has been great starting pitching.

Sanchez, whose last two outings came out of the bullpen, continued that stretch. Starters Mitch Gueller, Brandon Leibrandt and Sanchez have combined to allow 12 hits and two runs over 17 innings during the homestand.

“He's so valuable for us,” Cutters manager Shawn Williams said. “He just wants to pitch. We have been able to stretch out to where he is a starter. We can throw him two or three innings out of the bullpen, but he stretched out enough that he can still come back and give you five or six innings in a start.”

And last night's game at Bowman Field continued Sanchez's brilliance against Mahoning Valley. His only other start this month game against the Scrappers in Ohio, and he threw five shutout innings without allowing a hit that night. In 10 innings against the Scrappers this year, the 20-year old from the Dominican Republic has allowed five hits and one run.

It hasn't all been roses for Sanchez this year, as his one-run effort last night lowered his season ERA to 5.90. But it's flashes like last night's that keeps the coaching staff's confidence in him.

He's been shuffled from the starting rotation to the bullpen and back to the rotation as Williamsport has added the likes of Matt Imhof, Chris Oliver and Brandon Leibrandt throughout the season. Despite the yo-yo game with his role, he hasn't allowed more than two runs in any of his four outings this month.

And it's not that he was exceptionally crisp last night. He allowed at least one baserunner in each of his five innings, but he minimized opportunities for a Mahoning Valley team hitting just .237 this year. The Scrappers reached second base in the first two innings, one of which scored on a Josh McAdams triple. But not another baserunner reached second in his final three innings.

“He's a guy that uses all three of his pitches at any time. He even changes speeds off those pitches,” Williams said. “For me, that's not easy to hit when a guy's fastball ranges six miles and hour. If he can just consistently throw strikes like he did tonight and like he did at Mahoning Valley, he's tough to hit because he keeps the ball down.”

Sanchez's effort was backed by three live arms out of the bullpen which closed out the win. Recently added Edubray Ramos struck out one batter in his inning in which he flashed a really good breaking ball. Manny Martinez, who has allowed just one hit in his last six outings, struck out two batters. And Jesen Therrien struck out four over two innings to earn his first save with the Cutters.

Williamsport's pitching staff has allowed just one run over the last 19 innings.

“They've been great,” Cutters outfielder Jiandido Tromp said of the pitching staff. “They've been keeping us in the game, and they've been low-scoring games, so that's good.”

“It is contagious, just like hitting is contagious,” Williams said. “Guys feed off each other.”

Tromp continued his hot hitting on the homestand with a 3 for 3 night which included a triple, an RBI, two runs scored and a stolen base. He's 7 for 11 in the homestand so far with six RBIs and five runs scored.

His third-inning single with two outs on a 3-2 pitch scored Chase Harris with the Cutters' first run to erase a 1-0 deficit. Aaron Brown followed on the next pitch with a laser of a double to center which scored Tromp to give Williamsport a 2-1 lead it never relinquished.

Tromp's triple with one out in the eighth set up an insurance run driven in by Rhys Hoskins with a sacrifice fly. Two batters later, Cord Sandberg tripled to right field to score Brown and Derek Campbell, who had both been hit by pitches, to give Williamsport a 5-1 lead.

“We didn't play bad (on the road trip), we just struggled a bit with getting some runs in,” Tromp said. “It's going to happen at some point and you just have to turn it around. We did that the first game when we came here and we're keeping it going.”


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