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Greene's first homer powers Cutters to win
July 15, 2012 - Mitch Rupert
By MITCH RUPERT email@example.com
It was just one swing. One swing in a million which Larry Greene Jr. will take this summer.
It was a swing which Williamsport manager Andy Tracy called just "a good, easy pass" at the ball.
But it was so much more than just one swing. Greene's first professional home run in the first inning Sunday against Vermont was a giant release of pressure. It was the start of the Crosscutters' 8-3 win, snapping a five-game losing streak and an eight-game losing streak at Bowman Field.
Greene's moonshot of a home run to right-center field that cleared a cluster of tall trees gave Williamsport a 2-0 lead. It was the first time in a week the Cutters had scored first in a game and didn't spend inning after inning scratching and clawing their way back into the game.
And for Greene, the home run came with a two-ton weight lifted from his shoulders. The 39th overall draft pick in 2011 was touted as potentially the Phillies' minor league system's best power hitter before he ever played a game. He answered the questions of when his first home run would come resoundingly.
It was a no-doubt-about-it blast which seemed to go as high as it did far.
"This is a good one. This is a big one for me," Greene said. "It feels good to hit my first pro one. It's just like a big weight off me. It feels real good."
Greene's homer kept a lively Bowman Field crowd of 1,910 buzzing until his next at-bat. And the hulk of a left-fielder found a way to keep it buzzing all night.
He reached on an infield single deep in the shortstop hole in his second at-bat. He was robbed of a hit on a diving catch by Vermont's John Wooten in the fifth inning. He took a walk in the seventh, and drove a two-run double down the third-base line in the eighth inning to provide the Cutters with a pair of insurance runs.
This Larry Greene Jr. isn't the one that was drafted 39th overall last year. This version is better.
He's driving the ball the other way. He's trusting his natural strength to drive the baseball. He's working counts, getting pitches that he wants to hit. And that defensive shift to left field? Yeah, he's doing just fine with that, too.
"That was awesome. I'm so happy for him," Tracy said of the home run. "He didn't get big on it. He swung and he hit it. It wasn't a muscled home run. It was a great swing. He's starting to realize he doesn't have to do as much as he thinks."
Greene became the fourth Cutters player to drive in at least four runs in a game this year. Mitch Walding, Chris Serritella and Brian Pointer have also done it. Greene's couldn't have come at a better time, though. Williamsport had lost 14 of its previous 18 before Sunday's game.
A usually lively clubhouse was eerily silent after a loss to the Lake Monsters on Saturday night. Last night's win brought that life back.
The Crosscutters won by recording double digit hits for the first time since last Monday's loss to Staten Island. They won because Delvin Perez had his best start of the season, throwing four great innings before wiggling out of a jam in the fifth. Steven Inch and Jeb Stefan faced just two batters over the minimum in their four innings for yet another strong bullpen outing.
Williamsport can win its first series in three weeks with a win in the series finale against Vermont today.
"We played like a team," Greene said. "Our pitching was good. Our fielding was good. It's starting to come around for us."
Perez made four early runs stand up, throwing shutdown innings after both a two-run first and a two-run second inning. He allowed just one hit in his first four innings, and the three baserunners he did allow in the first three innings were all erased on a double plays.
Perez ran into in the fifth as the first four batters reached with two walks, a double and an error, but after a bunt put runners on second and third, Perez struck out leadoff hitter Chris Bostick and got Brett Vertigan on a lazy fly ball to left field to minimize the damage at just two runs.
Perez improved to 2-2 with the win.
"I wanted to get him through the fifth because he deserved a win," Tracy said. "He lost a little bit and then slowed down and got back into it. That's the Perez we've seen a lot. So we know there's something there, it's just nobody up here has seen it."
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CRAIG S. MCKIBBEN JR/Sun-Gazette Larry Greene Jr. swings at a pitch in the third inning on Sunday's game against Vermont at Bowman Field. Greene reached on an infield single.