Baseball: Person pitches Burlington Central over Hampshire
Burlington Central pitcher Michael Person put Hampshire in quite a predicament.
The Whip-Purs were more aggressive early in the game and Person cruised through four innings with 39 pitches.
Then, when Hampshire adopted a more selective approach, Person painted the corner one batter after another.
The Rockets sophomore right-hander struck out 11, eight of which went down looking, as Burlington Central defeated Hampshire, 10-1, in the final Fox Valley Conference baseball game of the season Tuesday at The Yard.
"It was all about getting ahead of hitters and hitting spots with two-strike pitches and making sure they couldn't get anything to hit out over the plate," Person said. "I felt very loose after the first one or two innings. I was starting to get into my stuff more and really felt comfortable."
Person, who did not walk a batter, consistently got ahead in counts and did not have a three-ball count until the seventh inning.
"The thing about him is he has really good stuff, but he's going to throw strikes every time he's out there," said Rockets coach Kyle Nelson, whose team is 14-15, 9-9 in the FVC. "He just comes out and attacks hitters and he has good enough stuff that if he makes a couple mistakes he's going to be OK.
"Our defense played pretty well behind him for the most part. That's kind of how he does. He's going to throw three or four pitches for strikes. He's been really good this year."
Person allowed six hits and threw 95 pitches for the complete game, raising his record to 5-1.
"He was just spotting everywhere, outside, off-speed, kept them off-balance a lot," said Burlington Central catcher Jake Johnson, who was 3 for 4 with an RBI. "They weren't swinging at offspeeds, sitting fastballs.
"One run, seven innings is pretty good. He was mad he let that last run in. That's consistently how he does. He's had a phenomenal year and he's only a sophomore."
The Rockets scored two runs in the second after Johnson singled, Mitch Pedrigi executed a hit-and-run single to right field and the Rockets pulled a double steal. Nick Carpenter added an RBI single.
Barrett Lewis knocked in another run in the fifth with a single after Pedrigi had singled and advanced to second on a ground ball.
Hampshire (12-18, 4-14) put some pressure on Person in the fifth and sixth. The Whips had runners on first and third in the fifth and Person got two called third strikes.
In the sixth, Hampshire got singles from Matthew Karbowski and Austin Leonard, only to have Person strike out the next three hitters, the last two looking.
"It did seem like quite a bit there was too much guessing up there," Whips coach Frank Simoncelli said. "We were overly aggressive early on. His pitch count was 39 in the fifth inning. We kind of preached, 'Let's look at some pitches, make him work a little bit.'
"I thought our better innings were from that. We just weren't as aggressive, which was to our advantage. With that comes, sometimes, looking at a pitch."
The Rockets blew it open with seven runs in the top of the seventh. Person lost his shutout whe Logan Massie reached on an infield single with two outs and Nick Randell doubled to the left-field warning track with a ball that Pedrigi almost hauled in.
Nelson sensed it was going to be another good day for Person early in the game.
"It looked like he was able to paint that outside corner," Nelson said. "Once we got to two strikes, second or third inning, you could see he was able to put it on that outside corner.
"So Jake kind of moved out there and see what we would get out there (on the corner). A lot of times his strikeouts are breaking ball looking or breaking ball swinging. For him to have so many fastballs, it shows how good his location is."