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Hanson with a much-needed good outing Saturday

August 5, 2012 - Mitch Rupert
By MITCH RUPERT

mrupert@sungazette.com

A deep breath filled every inch of Nic Hanson’s 6-foot, 7-inch frame as he stood in front of his locker Saturday night.

“I needed that more than anything,” the Williamsport right-handed pitcher said.

Hanson was part of stellar pitching effort for the Crosscutters in a 15-inning loss to Connecticut on Saturday night, and of the five pitchers who threw for the Cutters, none of them needed the positive results more than Hanson. The 16th-round draft pick of the Phillies this year threw a pair of scoreless inning for the Crosscutters on Saturday. It was his first scoreless outing for the Cutters since June 27.

So when Hanson said he needed a positive performance like he had, he wasn’t joking.

“It really helps when you’ve had some tough outings and then you go out and feel good,” Hanson said. “It helps with your confidence and confidence has a lot to do with your pitching.”

Hanson allowed just one baserunner in his two innings as he bridged the gap between starter Jon Musser and closer Geoff Broussard. That one baserunner was a one-out walk to nine-hole hitter Charlie Neil that ended up being nothing. Hanson threw 24 pitches, with 24 going for strikes. He also struck out a pair of batters.

It was his first scoreless outing since throwing three shutout innings at Mahoning Valley in the first two weeks of the season. Since then he’s been fluctuated between being a starter and a reliever. And since that last scoreless outing, his ERA ballooned from 2.86 to as high as 8.70.

“Especially in that type of game it was nice,” Hanson said. “It was a close game and I really felt good.”

Hanson’s effort, along with strong performances from Steven Inch and Andre Kinder out of the bullpen, and Musser as the starter, have been a part of the Cutters’ recent rejuvenation in the pitching staff.

Inch threw 3 2/3 innings of scoreless relief on Saturday, retiring nine of the 11 batters he faced. He struck out three and got six ground-ball outs with a nasty sinker.

It’s a small sample size of just four games, but the Williamsport team ERA is down nearly a full run in the month of August from where it was in July. But it’s a trend that has extended to the past three weeks.

“We’ve been up and down, but the last three weeks it’s been confidence and we’re just staying loose,” Hanson said. “We’re not too tight and we’re having a good time playing the game and having fun. I think it’s helping a lot.”

After a solid 13-game June where the team ERA was under 4, things changed drastically in July where the Cutters had a 5.16 ERA. Collectively, the staff was also walking 3.9 batters per nine innings.

The ERA in our games in August is down to 4.19 and the staff has walked just 2.5 batters per nine innings. “We had a lot to do with a lot of the losses (in July) and it was tough to take,” Hanson said. “Now we’re pitching well and we’ve been having a good time and it’s showing.”

STRONG SHOWING: Andy Tracy was OK with Jon Musser giving up a pair of solo home runs.

Let that sink in for a moment.

On the surface it doesn’t seem to make sense. But consider where Musser has come from this year. He’s gotten himself in trouble by issuing walks to opposing hitters. This is the same pitcher that walked 17 batters in his first five appearances of the season.

So in the midst of a solid five-inning outing against Connecticut on Saturday when Musser walked just one batter, giving up a pair of solo home runs wasn’t so bad.

“It’s a positive that he gave up homers,” Tracy said. “They weren’t walks. I think we can all deal with those solo home runs as opposed to walk, walk, bomb.”

Musser has shown better control over his last five outings. He’s walked just four in that span and had four games where he didn’t walk a single batter.

THE STREAK IS OVER: Yan Carlos Olmo drew his first walk of the season on Saturday night after 143 plate appearances without a walk. Olmo had the most plate appearances in professional baseball without drawing a walk prior to Saturday.

The right-fielder walked on a 3-2 pitch in the seventh inning and nearly took another one in the 10th inning. In the 10th he swung at a 3-1 pitch at his eyes before lining a 3-2 pitch to center field for a single.

Cutters infielder Tyler Greene walked twice on Saturday. They were just the sixth and seventh walks of his season and the first time this season he’s walked twice in a game.

 
 

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