STATE COLLEGE - Dylan Cozens understands sometimes he's going to get fooled by off-speed pitches. The Williamsport right fielder also understands he can't just give up when he realizes he's fooled.
Tuesday night when State College reliever Jhonny Polanco fooled Cozens on a 1-1 change-up in the sixth inning, Cozens found a way to get the barrel on the ball. The 6-foot-6, 235-pounder was way out on his front foot but still hit a no-doubt-about-it home run to right field, basically with one hand.
Spikes right fielder Matthew Young didn't even chase the ball. Instead, he turned and watched it land in the bleachers above the 18-foot high wall in right field at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. It was the big blow in a five-run sixth inning which led the Crosscutters to a 5-2 win over State College.
Williamsport's Malquin Canelo fires to first base Tuesday at State College. (Centre Daily Times photo)
The Cutters improved to 7-2 since a four-game losing streak it suffered in the first five games of the season and moved to within a half-game of Jamestown for first place in the Pinckney Division.
The five-run sixth inning featured five of the Cutters' eight hits, four of which went for extra bases. Cozens' homer, his second of the year, was the big blow. It followed RBI doubles from Jiandido Tromp and Justin Parr and an RBI single from Andrew Pullin.
"I'm more of a react-to-the-pitch hitter than a guess hitter," Cozens said. "Change-ups do fool me, but you have to stay on it and still barrel it up."
"He's strong. He's very strong," Cutters manager Nelson Prada said. "He's a big kid and he's got power."
The Cutters made the adjustments in that sixth inning after coming up empty for five innings against State College starter Ben O'Shea. The soft-tossing left-hander got lots of soft contact with a good breaking ball and change-up through the first five innings.
But as O'Shea tired in the sixth inning, the Cutters capitalized on an average fastball.
"When you get that second or third time around against a soft thrower like him, guys can make some adjustments," Prada said. "If a guy throws 95, it is what it is, it's tough to make adjustments. If you have a guy who throws breaking pitches over and he uses the breaking pitch a lot, now you can recognize the pitches better and it puts you in a better situation."
"We haven't really seen a guy like that yet. So it's kind of tough to adjust from guys we've seen throwing 90, 95 to this kid throwing 85," Cozens said. "I feel like the better player you are, the quick the adjustment you make. We got a lot of good players on this team, so I"m thankful people made the adjustment before it got too late."
Had it not been for the offensive adjustments Williamsport made, it would have been a wasted solid effort from the pitching staff. Jon Prosinski had his best start since being drafted in the 10th round out of Seton Hall. He threw four great innings allowing just four hits and one run.
He left after throwing 39 of his 57 pitches for strikes. He struck out the final two batters he faced on fastballs on the outside corner. His previous longest outing had been just 2 2/3 innings.
Yacksel Rios was great for three innings, allowing one run and striking out three to pick up his first win. Felix Santos earned his first save by inducing a ground ball double play in the ninth inning. The three pitchers combined to scatter 10 hits and strand six on base. State College was just 3 for 12 with runners in scoring position.
"He throws the ball down. He throws strikes," Prada said of Prosinski. "He's got a little slider and a little change-up, but he doesn't use it much. He's a guy that pitches for contact. What we're looking for here is guys that pitch for contact and trust their fastball."
"I feel like if we get solid pitching throughout the rest of the year, there's no team that can really beat us," Cozens said. "But Prosinski did a great job tonight. He threw strikes and got us back in the dugout as quick as possible."