Good defense, solid pitching and timely hitting. Put them together and you usually have the ingredients for a win. That is how Williamsport took care of business Wednesday night as the Crosscutters defeated Tri-City, 3-1, before 1,041 fans at Bowman Field.
"We didn't hit the ball extremely well, but we hit it in the right places," said Cutter manager Mickey Morandini. "We got out of a couple of jams, Lino (Martinez) pitched well and then (Austin) Brough and (Juary) Gomez came in and shut the door on them."
Providing the starting pitching for the Cutters was lefty Martinez (6-2) as he baffled the Valley Cats for much of his six innings. For his effort, Martinez allowed just one run on six hits, walking one and striking out three.
As for the hitting, the leader of the Cutter attack was Kyrell Hudson who finished with three hits in three official at-bats. Hudson has been on a tear of late, showing four multiple hit games in his last five tries.
"He (Hudson) swung the bat real well tonight and has been swinging it well lately," praised Morandini. "I thought he was nice and loose up there, he was aggressive in the strike zone and he was able to get the barrel of the bat on the ball. That is what we need from him because we need him to be on base so that he can make things happen with his legs."
The Valley Cats struck first when Zach Johnson led off the second with a solo home run to left.
The Tri-City lead was short-lived as the Cutters bounced back to take a 2-1 lead with a pair of runs in the third. Doing the damage for the Cutters were Pete Lavin, Hudson, Aaron Altherr and Harold Martinez with singles and Geancarlo Mendez with a sacrifice fly to center that chased Lavin home. Hudson scored on Altherr's RBI single.
After securing the 2-1 lead, the Cutter defense rose to the occasion in the fifth inning as it turned a nifty 6-4-3 double play with the bases loaded and only one out.
"For me that was the play of the game," said Morandini about the twin killing. "That was huge for us right there to keep them off the board, allowing us to keep the one-run lead and then Harold (Martinez) gave us the extra run with his home run."
Martinez gave the Cutters a big insurance run when he belted a solo home run to straightaway center leading off the sixth inning. For Martinez, it was his second roundtripper of the season.
"He was nice and short on his swing and he really got the barrel on that one," Morandini said about Martinez's blast. "He hit that ball a long way and that was nice to see from him. Hopefully that will get him in a little bit of a groove now."
Morandini admitted that the extra run made things a little easier for his club, especially considering the amount of close games the Cutters have played this year.
"It (the extra run) gives the pitcher a little extra breathing room," he said. "With the two-run lead, it means that he doesn't have to be perfect with every pitch. If you are going to play a lot of close games which we do, you have to make those plays and make good pitches. Fortunately for us, we were able to do that tonight."
Overall, Morandini likes what he sees from his club over the past 10-12 games.
"They are doing a nice job," he said. "Our hitting has been better in clutch situations, the pitching has been pretty consistent throughout, but tonight, I give this one (win) to our defense because our defense made some huge plays, especially with guys in scoring position. (Cody) Asche made some real nice plays and Harold (Martinez) made an outstanding play to end the game."
The same two teams will be right back at it tonight with a single game slated to get underway at 7:05 p.m. Prior to and during the game, the Keystone Kids, representing Pennsylvania and the Mid-Atlantic region in the Little League World Series, will be featured.
NOTES: The Cutters added infielder Geancarlo Mendez to the roster. Mendez was demoted from Lakewood where he was hitting .244 (71-291) with three home runs and 33 RBI. Mendez was signed by the Phillies as a free agent in 2007. He is from Santo Domingo, DR...Former Cutter pitcher Michael Schwimmer was called up by the Phillies to take the roster spot of Placido Polanco who is on the DL. Schwimmer played for the Cutters during the 2008 season, posting an 0-2 mark with eight saves and a 1.96 ERA...When the Cutters returned home for the current 6-game homestand, it will be the first time since the 2005 they had a bona fide chance for divisional honors. They entered play Wednesday night one game back of Auburn, tied with Mahoning Valley for the second spot in the Pinckney Division standings with 32-24 marks.