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Spikes' Heredia brilliant in debut vs. Cutters

June 21, 2012 - Mitch Rupert

STATE COLLEGE – Brian Pointer stood in right field, holding his arms out to the side, staring at the sky in Medlar Field at Lubrano Park trying to find the baseball.

Tyler Greene was running into right field, pointing toward the baseball in the sky as dusk began to creep over the stadium. Yan Olmo stood in shallow right-center field as the ball fell just feet in front of him.

After putting on a hitting and pitching clinic the night before, Williamsport struggled in every facet of the game Thursday, losing to State College, 8-0, and collecting just three hits.

Williamsport starting pitcher Jonathan Musser walked four in two innings. Roman Quinn made a key throwing error in the third inning that led to two unearned runs, and the Crosscutters’ offense had just three baserunners reach second base.

“The guys have to get used to playing every night,” Cutters manager Andy Tracy said. “We had a good night (Wednesday), but that’s over with. We had a bad night (Thursday) and that’s over with. Now it’s just time to start over.”

State College 17-year old starting pitcher Luis Heredia was brilliant in his Spikes debut, pitching four shutout innings allowing just one hit and striking out four. The 6-foot-6, 237-pound right-hander hit 92 on the stadium radar gun with his fastball which Spikes manager Dave Turgeon said was reading slow.

Heredia gave up a leadoff walk to Quinn in the first inning, but stranded the speedy shortstop at third. After walking Larry Green to start the second inning, Heredia got Mitch Walding to ground into a double play to end the inning. His final pitch of the night induced a 5-4-3 double play on a broken bat roller off the bat of Chris Serritella.

“I was feeling strong. My pitching was strong,” said Heredia, a Mexico native who pitched in the Gulf Coast League last year as a 16-year old. “I was throwing strikes and getting ground balls.”

“He’s got a good arm and he was around the plate,” Tracy said. “He was throwing three pitches for strikes, and at this level that’s trouble for our guys.”

Heredia dominated early with his fastball. From his 6-6 frame, he threw on an extreme downhill plane. From there he used his change-up to keep the Cutters off-balance.

Heredia also wasn’t afraid to elevate the fastball to get a strikeout. The only hit he surrendered was a fourth-inning single to Brian Pointer in front of Serritella’s ground ball double play.

Stallings also got Heredia pitching backwards the second time threw the order, starting hitters off with first-pitch change-ups, or throwing change-ups early in the count when behind.

“My change-up was pretty good,” said Heredia, who used a translator to understand the questions from a throng of reporters, but answered all questions in English. “I’m surprised my change-up was very good.”

“To me, he’s not a 17-year old,” Turgeon said of the youngest Spikes player ever. “He’s so beyond his years. I couldn’t be more impressed. I’m very proud of him. He’s a great kid and he works his butt off.”

A Cutters offense that pounded out 17 hits in Wednesday’s 13-1 win over State College recorded only three last night. Heredia, Joan Montero, Jordan Cooper and Logan Penvy struck out 10.

In Tuesday’s loss, also in State College, five Spikes pitchers combined to strike out nine Crosscutters and scatter seven hits.

“The balls you have to hit are the ones he makes mistakes on,” Tracy said. “And when that doesn’t happen and you foul them off, it puts you in a hard spot.”

Musser struggled in his second inning of work, walking the first three batters on 13 pitches before Rodarrick Jones hit a fly ball to center field to score Samuel Gonzalez. Four pitches later Jodaneli Carvajal tripled to center field over the head of Olmo, who didn’t get a good read on the ball, to score two more runs.

Musser threw just two innings last night, throwing just 18 of his 44 pitches for strikes.

The Spikes added two more runs in the third after it appeared reliever Luis Gonzalez was going to be out of the inning. With two outs and a runner on first, Yhonathan Barrios hit a grounder to shortstop, and as Quinn tried to get the lead runner, he threw wide and the ball rolled up against the tarp down the right-field foul line. Samuel Gonzalez scored all the way from first. Walker Gourley followed with an RBI single to left field to score Barrios.

Carvajal led off the fourth inning with a triple, his third of the series and all at Medlar Field, and scored on Barrett Barnes’ single to left field. An errant pickoff throw moved Barnes to third, and D.J. Crumlich, who just joined the Spikes on Thursday, singled to left-center to score Barnes and give State College a 7-0 lead.

After recording just one hit in Wednesday’s loss, State College had 11 last night.

“It’s kind of hard to get back from that,” Tracy said. “Then you have to go play the infield in early in the game to keep it in hand a little bit.”

“I told those guys my expectation between now and September is to come to work every day and compete,” Turgeon said. “I felt like they didn’t come to compete (Wednesday). I feel like they came to compete (Thursday) and they responded to that.”


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