Split leaves Cutters just shy of first

It’s the flashes of brilliance like the one Andrew Pullin showed in two games Monday which have the Phillies excited about the 19-year old second baseman.

He may be the best pure hitter in the Williamsport lineup. Fast hands, a quick stroke, power to all fields. He’s the kind of prospect scouts take notice of. But he’s bitten by a bout of inconsistency since joining the Crosscutters last month.

He’s never lost the confidence of his manager, Nelson Prada, though, mainly because nights like Monday when he was a combined 6 for 7 in a doubleheader split with Auburn. There’s too much within Pullin to get excited about to lose confidence.

The second baseman was 3 for 4 in the opener, driving in three of Williamsport’s six runs in a 6-1 win. He added three more hits in three at-bats in the second game, a 5-1 loss to the Doubledays. And in those two games, all of the potential the Phillies saw in his bat when they made him a fifth-round pick in 2012 shined through.

“I just felt like I hit the ball where it was pitched,” Pullin said. “Sometimes, yeah, I get out on my front foot and try to go to the ball instead of letting it travel a bit longer so I can see it longer. (Monday) was a good day.”

There’s never been a question about Pullin’s hit tool. And watch him during batting practice and you’ll see he has as much power as anybody on the team.

The left-handed hitter has never been able to consistently put it together, though. Monday night was his fifth multi-hit game of the young New York-Penn League season. Three times after the four previous multi-hit games he’s gone hitless the next night.

It’s what had Pullin floundering under the Mendoza line for the month of June.

“When he learns how to be consistent, he’s going to be a great hitter. Inconsistency is his second name right now,” Cutters manager Nelson Prada said. “It’s going to be on him and us (the coaching staff) and every day we’re going to work with him on going to the opposite field, because we know he can hit the ball out of the park to the opposite field. He can hit the ball to the opposite field like a righty. When he stays focused and gets more at-bats and matures more, he’s going to get it. But he shows you flashes like (Monday) where he gets five or six hits and he uses the whole field.”

Pullin used the entire field Monday night, with four of his six hits going to the opposite field, and three of those four going for doubles. And it wasn’t that Pullin was hitting flares or dying quails into no-man’s-land. He was driving the ball the other way.

In the second game he drove a ball off the wall in left-center field, some 400 feet away with a two-out double which was a perfect relay away from being his fourth RBI of the night. His fifth-inning double in the opener to left field scored a pair of runs, and he drove a ball back through the middle for an RBI single an inning later.

The 6 for 7 day which has been part of the tear Pullin has been on through the month of July. He’s already got 14 hits in seven games and is hitting .519 since the calendar changed.

“It’s probably a focus thing,” Pullin said of being able to go other way more consistently. “Probably the toughest thing is being focused and keeping the same approach all the time.”

His Game 1 outburst backed the best start of the year for 13th-round draft pick Jon Prosinski. The right-hander threw five shutout innings to pick up his first professional victory.

The right-hander sat at 88-91 with a fastball which showed late life and sink. He struck out four and for the third time in his four starts, he didn’t walk a batter. In fact, neither Prosinski nor reliever Yacksel Rios walked a batter. It was the first time this year the Cutters staff has gone an entire game without a walk.

“I like the way he pitches. I think he’s got some guts,” Prada said. “He’s not afraid of contact which is something I really like. The first time he pitched this year and got hit, I said I don’t care because he’s going to go out there and pitch and compete. He’s competing right now. The last two outings he’s only given up two runs in nine innings.”

“He’s down in the zone, he throws strikes and has movement on the ball,” Pullin said. “The more strikes the better. When you pitch to contact it keeps the game going.”

The Cutters loss in the nightcap snapped a four-game winning streak. The game turned on its head, though, in the fifth inning with Auburn leading 2-1. Pullin hit his towering double to left-center field in the bottom of the inning with Gustavo Martinez on first.

Isaac Ballou played the ball well off the wall and gave a good throw to shortstop David Masters who made a high relay throw to the plate. Martinez slid wide to the third-base side of home plate and appeared to get his hand to the plate in time as catcher Andruth Ramirez brought the tag down.

But home plate umpire Erich Bacchus called Martinez out. Martinez quickly jumped to his feet and pumped his fist in anger, drawing a lengthy stare from Bacchus as Martinez continued to bark at him as he walked away.

Prada ran down from his third-base coaches box and got in the face of Bacchus to argue the call for a good minute before calmly walking back to the dugout. Instead of having a tied game with a runner on third for Dylan Cozens, who hit his fourth home run of the season in the first game, Williamsport entered the sixth inning still down 2-1.

Auburn added another run to its lead in the top of the sixth inning on a single from Ballou and an RBI double from Masters. Greg Zebrack added a towering two-run home run in the seventh to push the lead to 7-1.

“He got in, no doubt about it,” Prada said. “I was made because I knew that was going to change the game. They just get up and we come back and we should have tied the game and had Pully at third base. Now when Gustavo is called out, the game’s just not the same. If we tie the game, we have momentum, we have adrenaline going. But after that, the game is just different.”

NOTES: Williamsport first baseman Logan Pierce went 0 for 4 in the first game, ending his seven-game hitting streak and his 11-game on-base streak. Crosscutters starting pitcher Drew Anderson allowed just two runs in five innings in the nightcap. It was the 10th consecutive game a Cutters starting pitchers has allowed three runs or less. Second-round draft pick Andrew Knapp made his return to the lineup for the first time in a week, going 0 for 3 with three strikeouts in the second game.