Cutters throw 2 shutouts to sweep doubleheader

Coming into Wednesday night’s doubleheader with Auburn, the Williamsport Crosscutters had dropped their last five games and 12 of their last 14.

As a matter of fact, the Cutters entered the twinbill with an 0-8 mark in double-dips this season.

Obviously enjoying the home cooking on their home turf, the Cutters gave Auburn the broom treatment by playing outstanding baseball, defeating the Doubledays, 2-0, in the opener before taking the nightcap, 3-0.

“They lost a couple of tough games in Batavia, but when you come in here, you would never know they lost a game,” said Cutters manager Pat Borders. “They played hard and with a lot of energy and the pitchers stood up and really did well. I was impressed with their efforts. Those were two really well-played games.”

With Auburn’s Jackson Tetreault and Crosscutter righthander Andrew Brown matching each other pitch-for-pitch out of the gate, the Cutters blew a golden opportunity in the bottom of the fifth.

Cole Stobbe led off with a ringing double to left and Brian Mims followed with a single, moving Stobbe to third.

Rodolfo Duran popped out to the catcher on a bunt attempt, Jesus Azuaje grounded out on a comebacker to Auburn reliever Alex Troup, and Nick Maton was the third out of the inning on a foul fly ball to left field.

After coming up short in the fifth, the Cutters tried it again in the sixth and this time they got it right.

Josh Stephen led off with a single to right and Jhalyn Ortiz followed with his second double of the game. Greg Pickett chased Stephen across the dish with the game’s first run on an RBI single to left. Yahir Gurrola made it 2-0 when he lofted a sacrifice fly to right, Ortiz sprinting home with the second Williamsport run.

Brown (3-4) worked the first six innings to pick up the win, scattering four hits, walking three and striking out five. Luis Ramirez worked the final inning to pick up his ninth save of the campaign.

“This was one of my better games of the season,” said Brown. “I was locating my pitches good today. The last time against them I wasn’t that good, but today, I stepped it up.”

As for his approach to the game, Brown said it was just doing what was necessary to keep the Auburn hitters off balance.

“I kind of mixed it up today,” Brown said. “If I started a guy with the fastball the first time up, I would go with a breaking pitch the next time to keep them off the plate. The most important thing as a pitcher is throwing first-pitch strikes and today, that was big for me.”

Offensively for the Cutters, Stobbe and Mims each had a pair of hits, Stobbe with a single and double, while both of Mims hits were singles.

Just as in the opener, the second game featured good pitching by both starters into the fourth. But that was when Stobbe decided to take matters in his own hands.

Narrowly missing a home run in his first at-bat of the game, Stobbe hit a towering drive that resembled his first attempt, but this time it stayed inside the fair pole for a solo home run and a 1-0 Williamsport lead.

It was Stobbe’s eighth home run of the season, surpassing Ortiz for the team lead and tying Tri-City’s Jake Adams for the New York-Penn League lead.

“He stayed through the ball the second time. That was the difference,” said Borders. “I thought it was going to hook, but it stayed close in a line. He had good backspin on that one. It was nice to see.”

As for Stobbe’s view of the two situations, he said it was a matter of having a good approach.

“I just went up there with a plan and I stuck to it,” he said. “I put a little straighter swing on the second one and that kept it from hooking. Both of them felt good coming off the bat and I knew that I hit them on the barrel.”

Regardless of what happened before, Stobbe said he felt it was just good to get a win.

“It is always good to get a ‘W’ whether you had been winning all along or losing all along,” Stobbe said. “What makes it even feel better is that we got two wins, both in the same day.”

After a two-out walk was issued to Neriluis Martinez, Malvin Matos drilled a line drive home run to left field to increase the Cutters’ lead to 3-0 after four innings, which stood up for the final.

Spencer Howard was also strong on the mound as he worked the first five innings, allowing the Doubledays just one hit and no runs. He struck out six and walked two.

“All of the pitchers were outstanding tonight,” said Borders. “Two shutouts back-to-back like that is hard to do in a doubleheader. It is tough enough to win a doubleheader, but with shutouts in both games is just outstanding.”

The two teams will wrap up the three-game series tonight with a single game slated for a 7:05 first pitch.

The Doubledays will send former State College High product Nick Raquet (2-2, 2.97) to the bump. The Cutters will counter with Will Stewart (4-2, 4.14).