Cutters drop series finale at home

In hindsight, David Whitehead would have thrown a different pitch to Tri-City’s Jamie Ritchie in the fourth inning Monday even though the one he actually threw wasn’t so bad.

But the ValleyCats’ catcher did just enough to get the barrel on the ball, flipping it down the right-field line for a two-run double which was enough to beat the Williamsport Crosscutters at Bowman Field. The Cutters’ bats just never came alive and were held to just four hits in a 4-0 loss.

Tri-City took two out of three in the series, and left Williamsport with a 3-3 mark in its six-game homestand. It was just the second time this year the Cutters were shut out.

“It was one of those nights where we didn’t get the bats going,” Williamsport manager Shawn Williams said. “I thought Whitehead threw the ball really well again. It’s one of those games where you face some good arms and it happens.”

Whitehead put together another quality start for the Cutters last night. He’s worked into the sixth inning in all six of his starts, and he completed six innings for the fourth time. His only blemish was the 3-2 fastball to Ritchie.

Whitehead threw the fastball outside a pitcher after blowing a fastball past Ritchie. But Ritchie stuck the bat out and got enough of it to line it over the head of first baseman Rhys Hoskins for a two-run double.

They were the only two runs Whitehead gave up last night as he got out of the fourth inning with a fly out and a groundout, stranding Ritchie at second base.

“It wasn’t bad pitch location, but I thought it was probably a bad pitch overall,” Whitehead said. “I probably should have thrown him something different and probably should have gone inside. Throwing it outside sped up his barrel a little bit and he was able to do what he did with it.”

“I thought it was a good piece of hitting,” Williams said. “To hit it over the first baseman the other way, that’s pretty good. I think it was a good pitch with a good piece of hitting.”

It was more than enough to beat a Williamsport offense which didn’t work one three-ball count last night. Only Emmanuel Marrero reached second base for the Cutters, and that was on a third-inning double with two outs.

Williamsport had just four baserunners coming on four base hits. Chase Harris had an infield single, Marrero doubled, and Deivi Grullon went 2 for 3 with a pair of singles up the middle, including one off of Kyle Weiland, a pitcher on rehab who’s had two cups of coffee in the big leagues with Houston and Boston.

Weiland, who is back in baseball after missing all of 2013 with three shoulder surgeries for an infection, threw a scoreless fifth inning striking out a pair of batters. Four Tri-City pitchers combined to strike out eight.

Starter Brandon McNitt struck out four in four scoreless innings for the ValleyCats. He allowed just two hits and faced just one batter over the minimum. McNitt lowered his ERA to 1.93.

Austin Chrismon followed Weiland with 2 2/3 innings of two-hit shutout relief, and Jordan Mills, who has yet to allow a run in 11 2/3 innings this year, retired the final four batters of the night. The four Tri-City pitchers recorded six 1-2-3 innings.

“Their pitchers were really good,” Whitehead said. “It almost looked like they were coming after us backwards. You’re going to have those nights. You can’t hit 12 home runs every night. They just beat us tonight.”

Cutters center fielder Aaron Brown gave the team a spark when he made a tremendous throw from medium deep center field on one hop to Grullon to throw out Alex Hernandez trying to score on a fly ball in the fifth inning.

Grullon was able to corral the short-hop and quickly place the tag on Hernandez for the final out of the top of the fifth. But the Cutters just couldn’t sustain the spark. Williamsport lost three of the final four games in the homestand with Vermont and Tri-City.

“He’s got some kind of arm. It feels like he’s going to throw them out every single time,” Williams said. “(Grullon) did a great job getting the throw and blocking the plate, but Brown’s got some kind of good arm.”