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Hughesville’s Chance Webb throws brilliant gem in his final baseball game

A year which offered so much promise turned so dark this past spring.

Hughesville baseball felt like it was building something special and Chance Webb was a key reason why. But then the COVID-19 pandemic spread and the high school baseball season was over before it started, costing Webb his senior campaign.

COVID-19 took away so much, but it could not take away this moment. There Webb stood under the bright Moser Complex lights last Thursday, using his left arm to paint a Picasso-like pitching masterpiece. And in the sixth inning there was his younger brother, Jediah, behind the plate as Hughesville’s catcher.

Jediah caught the final pitch Chance will ever throw for Hughesville and it was a strike three as older brother closed out a brilliant outing which helped Hughesville defeat Mill Hall, 7-0. Webb threw six shutout innings, allowing just two hits and striking out a career-high 13. He has been outstanding before, but Webb may have just saved his best for last.

The victory gave Hughesville the top seed for today’s summer league tournament. Hughesville plays Warrior Run at 10 a.m., Mill Hall meets Loyalsock at 12:30 p.m. and the championship will be at 3:30 p.m. at Bodine Park. Webb cannot pitch today after throwing 100 pitches Thursday, but what a curtain call he produced.

“It was pretty great pitching under the lights and throwing the way I did,” Webb said. “I was never expecting to strike out that many. That was surprising, but I was happy to do it and help the team.”

Webb helped the team a lot in 2019, going 4-0 with a 0.40 ERA as Hughesville made a 10-win improvement and nearly reached the district semifinals. Webb was part of a deep projected pitching staff entering 2020 and he showed against Mill Hall why his contributions likely would have meant so much.

A misjudged pop-up in the first inning was the only hit Webb allowed until the fifth inning when he surrendered a two-run double. The left-hander brilliantly located his two and four-seam fastballs, overpowering Mill Hall while striking out the side twice and multiple hitters in an inning five times.

Webb’s value is not just how he pitches but when he can pitch. He is a player who can excel in all situations and was terrific when called upon throughout 2019, whatever his role. Hughesville needed Webb to eat some innings Thursday and keep its remaining pitchers eligible for today’s tournament and again, Webb delivered.

“He’s the guy going into the season we thought was the Rubber Arm guy. He’s the guy who can throw multiple times in a week. He can be a spot-start guy and can also be a middle guy to get to the back end,” Hughesville coach Chris Kish said. “That’s why he was so valuable to our team from the standpoint that you need a guy like that to be able to bridge the gap. He went out (Thursday) and in his final start he dominated and showed why he would have been a huge asset for us.”

Ironically, Webb closed out his Hughesville pitching run by becoming something different. He has never been classified as a strikeout pitcher but would have made Steve Carlton smile Thursday. Webb struck out the side in order in the fourth inning and reached 10 strikeouts by the fifth. He had at least one strikeout in every inning as well.

Catcher Chase Bremigen and Webb basically called the game from the second inning through the fifth and were in sync the whole time as even when Mill Hall did hit the ball, rarely was it hit hard. It helped, too, that Hughesville played error-less baseball behind Webb, allowing him to go right after hitters.

“I always have great confidence in my defense behind me and that helps me so much when I’m pitching,” Webb said. “I know that we have speed in the outfield and that if I hang a pitch they can chase it down and we have a great infield that makes all the plays. It allows me to pitch confident and work ahead knowing that if they do hit it, the defense can shut it down.”

Webb was a shutdown pitcher all night, starting to lock in when he escaped a bases-loaded first-inning jam with a strikeout. Over his final five innings, Webb let just one ball leave the infield and struck out 11.

“He pitches to contact, but it’s usually weak contact. He has a ton of run on his ball because he has that drop-down arm slot,” Kish said. “He has not been a strikeout guy, but (Thursday) he sure was a strikeout guy.”

And that moment Webb created in his final pitching performance is one which should personally shine bright forever.

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