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Crazy baserunning play gives Cutters a win over Auburn

June 23, 2012 - Mitch Rupert
By MITCH RUPERT

mrupert@sungazette.com

Roman Quinn was in no man’s land, stuck somewhere between ‘Do I keep running home?’ and ‘do I retouch third base?’

He paused momentarily, standing on the infield grass by third base, and turned to back toward second. He Chace Numata running on a dead sprint from second to third.

Cutters manager Andy Tracy yelled at him to touch third base and run home.

“I tell him to go because Numata was coming,” said Tracy, Williamsport’s third-base coach. “I figure even if he gets thrown out at the plate, we still have two runners on.”

But Quinn’s speed was more than good enough to make up for the confusing trip around third base. He slid across home plate, reaching his left hand out to touch the plate giving the Crosscutters a 3-2, 10-inning at Bowman Field on Saturday night.

“It was crazy,” Quinn said in the Cutters clubhouse as he recounted the story. “I broke for third trying to take third, (Perkins) popped it in the air. Tracy told me to head back to second. So I head back to second and I see it drop. I headed back to third. I missed third. I came back and hit third. I don’t even know.”

“I’m sure (Auburn) is sitting over in the other dugout saying ‘what just happened?’” Tracy said. “I was doing the same thing. I’m glad it was Quinn that was the one making the mistake because he can make up for it with his speed.”

Quinn, who led off the inning with a walk and moved to second on an error on Numata’s sacrifice bunt attempt, got the opportunity to score when Perkins missed a bunt sign and blooped a hit into right field that fell in front of defensive replacement Wander Ramos. Perkins had just been called up to Williamsport earlier Friday.

In fact, he had been up since 3 a.m. to get on a 5:30 flight out of Tampa. He arrived in Williamsport around noon not expecting to be in the lineup, but Tracy had him hitting third as the designated hitter. His whirlwind day ended some 19 hours later with his first career walk-off hit.

“I seriously don’t even know what was going on,” said Perkins, who was 1-for-4 with the winning RBI. “I didn’t even know if it was a bunt or a hit-and-run. It was my first day so I just swung.

“I’d rather go 3-for-4, but a walk-off hit is OK.”

Confusing baserunning and missed signs aside, the Cutters’ offense did just enough to back a tremendously pitched game from starter Josh Warner and reliever Zach Cooper. Warner allowed just two runs for the second consecutive start, striking out six over seven innings.

He pounded the strikezone early with his fastball, setting up hitters for two-strike breaking balls that just froze Auburn hitters. Warner never faced more than four batters through his first six innings of work. He retired the first two batters of the seventh before a walk to Khayyan Norfolk extended the inning.

Jordan Poole doubled to the left-field wall on the first pitch he saw to drive in Norfolk and cut the Williamsport lead to 2-1. Craig Manuel singled to right field on the next pitch to drive in Poole and tie the game. But Warner escaped further damage with a lazy fly ball to center field.

Of his 89 pitches, 57 were for strikes (64 percent).

“I think he did use his fastball a lot,” Tracy said. “I thought late he went a little soft and you saw what happened when he went soft. I thought he worked off his fastball which made him way better than when he works off his curveball.”

“He was great. He was fantastic,” Quinn said of Warner. “He had a great outing tonight and he’s pitched really good the last two games. He’s tough, man.”

Cooper gave the Cutters some length out of the bullpen on a night when they were short-handed, pitching three scoreless innings. Cooper was a starting pitcher at Central Michigan University this year, but Tracy and pitching coach Aaron Fultz like him in the back end of the bullpen.

He had thrown just one inning prior to last night’s game because the games he had been scheduled to pitch in were the ones Williamsport lost in the opening series with State College. Cooper showed a hard slider with good bite and run away from right-handed hitters last night. He struck out two, but also got two ground ball outs, a lazy fly ball, a pop up and a hump-back liner.

“Cooper was throwing strikes and getting ahead in counts and keep hitters off balance with that slider,” Perkins said. “He threw a lot of strikes which was the key to his success. If they were hitting it, they were hitting his pitch and not really getting anything off of it.”

“He looked real solid and we like how he throws the ball,” Tracy said. “He’s got some velocity and a good off-speed pitch. He’s a starter out of college and we knew we had to bridge some innings. He did a great job.”

 
 

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