Binghamton 7, Akron 3
Many times you can gauge a pitcher’s demeanor, their grit and persistence, when they don’t have their best stuff. That was the case at Binghamton’s NYSEG Stadium for B-Met starter Logan Verrett in the early going of last nights 7-3 victory over Akron.
Verrett has been a mainstay of the Binghamton staff so far this spring starting 8 games with a 5-1 record and a 3:15 ERA. A pinpoint command of the strike zone has helped Verrett log an impressive 0.99 WHIP in the young season.
Verrett struggled commanding his fastball in the first two innings of Tuesday’s contest. The usually accurate right hander walked three batters and delivered 40 pitches during the first two innings. In fact, only double play balls to end each frame prevented Verrett from disaster.
You can learn a lot about a pitcher when they labor on the hill. Such moments are gut checks that speak to the character of a pitcher. Will they remain poised and centered? Will they alter their mechanics? Will they begin to work too fast or too slow? Will they continue to challenge batters with their signature pitch even if when they can’t locate that pitch as they would like? Will they show grit and resolve in working through their troubles.
The character side of Verrett’s pitching report card was glowing last night.
Trouble presented itself almost immediately. Akron’s speedy centerfielder Tyler Holt, the second batter in the game, laced a line drive toward the gap in right-center field. B-Met right fielder Cesar Puello elected to attempt a diving catch but couldn’t complete the play with the ball going all the way to the wall, and Holt racing to third with a one out triple. Verrett walked Carlos Moncrief who stole second to set the table for Chun-Hsiu Chen. Chen, batting a sparkling .331, ripped a single up the middle scoring both runners and giving Akron a 2-0 lead. Quincy Lattimore sent a wicked line drive to the mound that Verrett played in the air, then doubled up Chen to end the inning.
Verrett’s troubles continued in the Akron second. The B-Met ace opened the frame by walking Roberto Perez and yielding a single to Giovanny Urshela. After striking out Kyle Bellas, Verrett walked the number nine batter Justin Toole to load the bases. Verrett was clearly struggling.
The second B-Met DP was a turning point for their young pitcher. Verrett settled in finding his customary command of the strike zone and dominated for the remainder of his outting. The DP started a string of 8 consecutive outs for Verrett.
The string was broken in the sixth when Bellas led off by slamming a Verrett curveball over the left field wall for a home run extending Akron’s advantage to 3-0. Verrett was unfazed putting the next 8 batters down in order before allowing an Ursela single with two down in the seventh. A look at Verrett’s pitching statistics show just how effectively he pitched after the first two innings. . All 3 Verrett walks and 3 of the 5 hits he allowed were surrendered during the first two innings.
Here was Verrett’s line on the evening: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 3 BB, 3 ER, 5 K
Total Batters Faced: 27
First Pitch Strikes: 19 – 70%
Ahead After Three Pitches: 8 – 30%
Total Pitches: 97 Strikes: 61 – 63% Balls: 36 – 37%
Strike Breakdown: Called: 26 – 43% Fouled: 7 – 11% Missed: 9 – 15% In Play: 19 – 31%
Full Windup: Total Pitches: 66 Strikes: 44 – 67% Balls: 22 – 33%
Stretch: Total Pitches: 31 Strikes: 17 – 55% Balls: 14 – 45%
Verrett’s fastball ranged from 86 to 94 mph. Only two pitches touched 94 both thrown in the first inning. It appeared as if Verrett was attempting more curve balls than the previous time I had watched him pitch. The triple and home run both came on curveballs.
The B-Met hitters struggled with Akron starting pitcher Paolo Espino‘s slow breaking curve ball in the early innings. Espino carried a shutout into the fifth inning when Binghamton scored three times to knot the score at 3-3. Cory Vaughn saw his first fastball on the fourth pitch and grounded a single to left to lead off the inning. Vaughn drew several pick off attempts with Espino finally throwing the ball past the first baseman and allowing the B-Met leftfielder to advance to second. After two infield pop-ups, Alonzo Harris worked a walk. Wilfredo Tovar laced a single to left field plating Vaughn and moved into scoring position when the leftfielders throw to third base attempting to get Harris sailed off line.
That brought the B-Met second baseman Danny Muno to the plate. Muno has been a clutch hitter for Binghamton this year, and he came through once again, lining a shot over off the centerfield wall to plate Harris and Tovar. Muno is batting just .228 but has knocked in a team high 21 RBI’s.
Binghamton caught some huge breaks in busting the game open in the home eighth. Tovar greeted relief pitcher Trey Haley with a ground single over the third base bag but was thrown out trying to leg it into a double. Haley, a fire throwing righthander, lost the plate throwing 11 consecutive balls, walking Muno and Josh Rodriguez and going 3-0 on Cesar Puello. Puello took two strikes before ball four loaded the bases.
With the infield in, Allan Dykstra tapped a soft ground ball to first baseman Chun-Hsiu Chen. Chen played the ball but double clutched without looking to throw home, changing his mind and attempting to get Dykstra at first. His throw was late with the B-Mets scoring the game winner. Vaughn followed with a broken bat flare that got past Haley for another infield hit and a second run. Two wild pitches completed the 4 run rally.
I finally got to see Jack Leathersich work the mound in relief and the lefty didn’t disappoint. Leathersich worked a scoreless eighth and ninth allowing a single hit while striking out 4 and walking only 1. He has a nasty breaking ball that freezes lefthanded hitters, a deceptive delivery, and fires some 90+ heat. Leathersich has struck out 33 batters in 17.2 innings.
Daniel Muno: 1-for-3, 1 2B, 1 BB, 2 RBI, 1 R
Josh Rodriguez: 1-for-3, 1 BB, 1 R
Allan Dykstra: 1-for-4, 1 RBI
Cory Vaughn: 2-for-4, 1 RBI, 2 R
Wilfredo Tovar: 2-for-3, 1 RBI, 1 R
Logan Verrett: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 1 HR, 3 BB, 3 ER, 5 K
Jack Leathersich: 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 BB, 4 K