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Crosscutters regress after strong start to August

August 6, 2012 - Mitch Rupert
By MITCH RUPERT

mrupert@sungazette.com

For all the good vibes that were flowing through the Williamsport clubhouse through the first four games of the homestand that ended last night, there were absolutely none following a 7-1 loss to Connecticut on Monday.

The loss closed out a three-game sweep at the hands of the Tigers. And after opening the six-game homestand with a pair of walk-off wins, the Cutters closed with two drubbings, being outscored 16-4 at the hands of the Stedler Division's last-place team.

Williamsport was able to shake off a one-run loss to Aberdeen in that series finale on Friday because it played a good game it just came up a run short on. It brushed aside a 15-inning loss Saturday to Connecticut. And even Sunday's 9-3 loss to the Tigers was shrugged off as just one of those baseball things where the team hit the ball hard but couldn't get the hits to fall.

Monday was different, though.

The Cutters stranded 10 runners on base, five of which were left on third base. Their lone run came on a Roman Quinn RBI triple in the fifth inning, but by that time they were already trailing 6-0.

"We had runners on a bunch of times, we just didn't take advantage of it," first baseman Chris Serritella said. "It's the headline of the game, not taking advantage of our opportunities."

The entire team has followed manager Andy Tracy's mantra of turning the page on a new month following July. The Crosscutters team that won its first two games of the homestand and lost the next two by a combined two runs was a far different team than the one which went 6-23 in July.

But the Crosscutters team which struggled to even stay within striking distance of the Tigers the last two nights looked more like the one which struggled to find consistency with pitching and offense in July. Williamsport had seven opportunities to drive in a runner from third base combined in the third, fourth and fifth innings last night. None of those opportunities came to fruition.

The ball didn't get out of the infield on either of the five chance in the third and fourth innings, and in the fifth, Kyle Hoppy's fly ball to left field was so shallow that not even Quinn could try to tag-up and score.

Williamsport was 1 for 15 with runners in scoring position last night.

"Four minuses getting a guy home from third with less than two outs," Tracy said. "That's four runs, and it probably makes it 6-4 at a point in the game, maybe 6-3. We just didn't situational hit. We've talked about it over and over. I think they know that."

"We work on it every day in BP, getting a guy over and getting a guy in with the infield back," Serritella said. "I think we just have to get our mindset right and take advantage of the opportunity because they don't come too often."

Conversely, Connecticut was 4 for 14 with runners in scoring position, but those four hits drove in a total of five runs. The Tigers also added a sacrifice fly. The only run that wasn't scored with a hit with runners in scoring position, was one on a wild pitch in the fifth inning.

Williamsport starting pitcher Manaure Martinez started strong, throwing 16 of his first 19 pitches for strikes and getting through the first two innings unscathed. But then he walked Jared Reaves with one out in the third. A comebacker then bounced into shallow left field when he tried to field it with his bare hand putting runners at the corners.

Danry Vasquez (4 for 5, 2 RBIs) and Patrick Smith followed with back-to-back RBI singles to give Connecticut a 2-0 lead. Nine-hole hitter Luis Cortez hit a two-run double in the fourth and Vasquez, an 18-year old outfielder from Venezuela, singled in his second run for a 5-0 Tigers lead.

After throwing just 19 pitches in the first two innings, Martinez threw a combined 52 in the third and fourth innings. He lasted just four innings, surrendering seven hits and five earned runs.

"I thought that he got squeezed a little bit (in the third). And then he probably tried to overthrow a little bit because he was getting squeezed and wanted to make too perfect a pitch after that," Tracy said. "And then his pitch count got up and we had to get him out of there. I thought his stuff was really good, to be honest with you."

Quinn did return to the lineup after two days off with a stellar night, going 3 for 5 with a double and triple. The triple was his New York-Penn League-leading ninth of the season. All three of his hits last night came left-handed where he has his batting average up to .250 after being under .200 for much of the year.

The big night also came three nights after he went 0 for 5 with five strikeouts in the series finale against Aberdeen. He missed the first two games of the Connecticut series with a stomach virus.

"I still had that Friday night game in my mind for two days. But I came back and made some adjustments and I felt pretty good (Monday)," Quinn said. "I'm feeling more comfortable each game (left-handed). I'm learning how to adjust with each at-bat. Last game I struggled with the breaking pitch. (Monday) I recognized it better and I closed my stance up a little bit. I'm seeing the ball better and I'm trying to put it in play."

 
 

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Blog Photos

RASHELLE CAREY/Sun-Gazette Williamsport pitcher Manaure Martinez delivers a pitch in Monday's game against Connecticut at Bowman Field.