SUDBURY, Mass. — Pitching depth can mean the difference between a good team and a team that could potentially make a run at a state title when the weather gets a little bit, make that a lot warmer, in June.
Xaverian has two horses at the top of the rotation in Tim Duggan and Austin DeCarr, and now they can add Alex Person to that depth that coaches love to have at their disposal.
Person struck out seven and only allowed three runs (two earned) in a complete game, four-hitter as he controlled the Lincoln-Sudbury lineup in the Hawks 4-3 victory on Thursday at frigid Feeley Field.
“To have depth not only allows you as a coach to manage things in terms of quantity of pitches, but it also allows your team to be confident with many different guys out there,” said Xaverian head coach Gerry Lambert. “That’s big. Your team’s confidence comes from feeling like they are ready to make a play, and that starts with the pitcher.”
Duggan and DeCarr probably get most of the limelight when Xaverian is talked about, however Person showed that he was able to handle an afternoon that was clearly not ideal for baseball against a team that will be in the hunt in Div. 1. He showed off good command of both his fastball and his breaking pitch as he only gave up two hits in the first five innings of the game on 59 pitches.
“I got into a rhythm and I just hit my spots,” said Person. “I wasn’t overpowering anybody. I was just hitting the outside corner.”
Person’s defense started to let him down a little bit in the final two innings and the Warriors did get the tying run to second base after Matt Cahill stole second base with Jack Harris at the plate. Person got Harris to fly out to right to end the game and move the Hawks record over. 500 to 3-2.
Let Him Go: There is a balance, according to Lambert, in the early season when it comes to protecting his starters from overworking themselves. In the first week he likes to keep his pitchers in the 60's in terms of pitches throw and build up through there.
Person was working his way around miscues from his fielders in the sixth that Lambert trusted him to get the final outs of the game on a very cold afternoon. Lambert discussed his philosophy with keeping Person in the game, which ultimately turned out to be the right call.
“They squared it up a lot more frequently and he lost two to three m.p.h off his fastball, but I also thought he was commanding the ball still,” said Lambert. “It’s a tough balance. I am not a guy who is looking to really overextend people early in the season and wind up having a problem in May and especially June.”
Searching For A Few Good Arms: It seems like Kirk Fredericks has always had a stud pitcher to turn to in big games over the past couple of seasons. This year, the Warriors head coach is looking for that next No. 1.
Fredericks and the Warriors nearly pieced together a victory with five different pitchers in the loss. No pitcher tossed more than two innings, but that was more to the fact that the pitchers were young and inexeperienced rather than inability to string together a handful of outs.
“It’s just a matter of that’s what we have,” said Fredericks. “We have a bunch of young guys who don’t have any experience. They aren’t very strong and we are trying to find out who is going to throw strikes and who can throw pitches like what (Xaverian) has.”
Alex Weiland looked like a promising sophomore pitcher for the Warriors. He struck out four in his two innings and only allowed two runners to reach base on a single by Chris Hoyt (3-for-3) and a walk. Both times Weiland got out of the inning without surrendering a run.
Brendan Kelly, another sophomore pitcher, pitched out of trouble in the seventh after letting the first two guys reach without letting a Hawk cross home plate to keep the game within reach.
“If those two can do that, then we will be competitive,” said Fredericks. “That would be a huge plus.”