Mitch Walding walked out the first-base side of the batting cage, bent over and slammed his helmet off the ground in frustration. He's been struggling with his swing the last few days and it just hasn't felt right, and during batting practice Wednesday afternoon it didn't get any better.
By game time, he appeared to be just fine. Walding went 4 for 5 last night with four RBIs as Williamsport beat State College, 13-1. Four Crosscutters pitchers combined on a one-hitter and three relievers faced just one batter over the minimum over six innings in the team's first win by at least 10 runs since beating State College, 13-3, on Aug. 28 last year.
"I think Mitch is going to bemad most of his life. He's just a fiery guy," Cross- cutters manager Andy Tracy said. "If everything isn't just how he wants it, he's going to be upset. We talked about this before about him just trying to take the foot off the gas pedal and you're starting to see it now. Hopefully he takes this and sees that it's just a game and you're going to have some bad nights. Just flush the toilet and start over."
Walding was one of Cutters to record multiple hits in the 17-hit barrage. Roman Quinn was 2 for 6, Brock Stassi was 2 for 6, Chris Serritella was 2 for 3 and Larry Greene was 2 for 4 with an RBI. Of the 11 Cutters batters who recorded an at-bat last night, 10 had at last one hit and nine scored at least one run.
"I'm pretty sure everyone is relaxed," Walding said. "This (first series) is pretty much everybody's first minor league game. It was definitely everyone getting (their first hit) out of the way. Now everyone is sitting back and just letting it happen."
Like in the Cutters' seven-run fourth inning when they sent 12 batters to the plate and waited to get the perfect pitches from either Dalton Friend or Justin Ennis. The Cutters' offense forced the two relievers to throw a combined 59 pitches in that fourth inning.
Tyler Greene had an RBI single to get the scoring started before Stassi and Brian Pointer each added RBI singles. Serritella walked with the bases loaded to force in another run. Three batters later, facing the knuckleballer Ennis, Walding sat back on a 3-1 pitch and jumped all over the fastball he expected to get.
Walding drove the pitch off the center-field wall, just to the right of the 405-foot marker, scoring both Pointer and Serritella. Walding ended up with a long single on the play because Larry Greene didn't pick up the ball and stopped at second base.
"I didn't know what to believe," Walding said. "I didn't know if he was catching it at the warning track or if it was going. Once I heard the noise I was wondering why am I only here? But it was all right."
Both Tracy and hitting coach Rafael DeLima have been working with Walding on using his hands more in his swing. But as he's worked on it over the last four or five days in batting practice it just hasn't felt right.
Walding said Wednesday night he finally got his timing down and it started to feel more comfortable. After grounding into a fielder's choice in his first at-bat, he doubled to lead off the seven-run fourth inning. He added his second hit of the inning with his two-run single. He singled leading off the sixth inning before added another two-run single on a broken bat roller up the middle in the seventh, scoring Trey Ford and Yan Olmo.
"The timing felt right and I could really feel my hands working," Walding said. "And if you're hands are working, that's where your power comes from. It really worked out well. So far, so good with the new hands stuff."
Cutters starting pitcher Jordan Guth and relievers Hoby Milner, Matt Sisto and Zach Cooper made it all stand up. The Spikes' lone hit was one-out triple in the top of the first inning from Raul Fortunato. He scored two pitches later on a sacrifice fly from Barrett Barnes giving State College a 1-0 lead.
Following Fortunato's triple, the Cutters pitching staff retired 25 of the next 28 batters they faced. The only ones to reach were Rodarrick Jones on a hit by pitch in the third, Fortunato on a walk in the sixth and Jodaneli Carvajal on a walk in the ninth. The three relievers faced just one batter over the minimum.
Fortunato in the first inning was the lone Spikes baserunner to reach second base.
"We're picking (Guth) up since he only has a 45-pitch count," Milner said after facing just nine batters in his three inning of work in his pro debut. "We're trying to come in and finish it the same way he was doing it."
"I can't ask for better pitching than we've had the last three nights," Tracy said. "We had the hiccup there in State College, but guys are throwing the ball well and they're competing."