Cutters end year at .500
STATE COLLEGE — When Jake Scheiner arrived at the ballpark Thursday for the Williamsport Crosscutters, he discarded how his body felt. He didn’t worry about how tired he was. Instead, he was going to play the final game of the season with all the energy he had.
It showed. The Cutters’ third baseman went 3 for 4 with a two-run home run and finished just a triple shy of the cycle as Williamsport closed the 2017 season with a 6-1 win over State College at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
With the victory, the Cutters finished 37-37, finishing its third consecutive season with non-losing record.
“It’s been a long few weeks without an off day,” Scheiner said. “I said screw the way my body feels and I’m just going to go out and play and do what I normally do and try to prove some things. It worked out.”
Scheiner has been playing with a sore right wrist since he was hit by a pitch on that wrist back on Aug. 16 in Auburn. Even though he was hit by the pitch, he was not awarded first base by plate umpire Roberto Pattison. One pitch later when Scheiner struck out, he was ejected for arguing with Pattison.
The fourth-round draft pick out of the University of Houston didn’t play in just two games following that day. He sat out the 17th because of his wrist and was given another day off on the 19th. But despite how his wrist felt, he played 20 games for the Crosscutters over the last 19 days, including the final 17 games in a row because of a bench depleted by injuries and promotions.
Thursday night Scheiner put all of that behind him and played with an energy and a fire that belied the typical final-day-of-the-season effort sometimes seen in baseball. His single up the middle in the first inning helped set up the Cutters’ first run on a Nerluis Martinez groundout. His smoked double down the third-base line in the fourth inning was a key hit in a two-run inning which gave Williamsport a two-run lead. And his two-run home run in the sixth inning came on a night with an early fall chill in the air to one of the deepest parts of the field.
“That’s the objective every end of the season when you fall out of the race for the playoffs, don’t give anything away,” Cutters manager Pat Borders said. “That’s one of the things I like to preach and it’s how I was when I played. Never give away an at-bat, never give away a game and enjoy every out.”
Scheiner will have eight days to rest his ailing wrist and tired body before reporting to Florida for Fall Instructional League, a rest he’s very much looking forward to. But last night was about leaving one final impression on Cutters fans about what he was capable of.
He took the work he’s been doing with roving hitting instructor Andy Tracy and put it to work in the final game. He stayed back on the baseball, letting it travel to him instead of lunging at it, and hit it hard for each of his three hits.
On his home run he was able to generate the kind of backspin which helps the baseball carry, even through the chilled air surrounding Mount Nittany. The ball came off his bat at 99.4 mph and traveled 402 feet for his fourth home run of the season.
“I’m looking for pitches I can get some backspin on,” Scheiner said. “I’m letting the ball get a little deeper instead of trying to go get it. I’m able to hit it in all directions hard.”
The big night capped a phenomenal run to the end of Scheiner’s season. He was 14 for 42 (.333) over his final 10 games of the season and an on-base percentage north of .350.
It’s the kind of run Scheiner is hoping carries over to both instructional league and to next spring when he begins his first full season as a member of the Phillies organization.
“Once you get in the groove the way I felt tonight, everything feels slow and you really recognize the pitches that are thrown at you,” Scheiner said. “The last month I felt really confident in the way I’ve been approaching hitting the ball and the way I’ve been hitting the ball. It’s a good lead into next season to see what I can really do at this level.”