Huffman’s pitching, McGlothin’s homer lead Rochester past Whitko in TRC opener
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
Rochester baseball coach Cory Good wanted to see his team get off to a quick start against visiting Whitko at Bob Copeland Field on April 19.
How does a leadoff-the-game homer sound?
Tarick McGlothin kickstarted a three-run first with that leadoff shot over the right field fence, and Aaron Huffman allowed just four hits and one run over six innings as the Zebras beat Whitko 6-1 in their Three Rivers Conference opener.
Colton Ferverda added a pinch-hit two-run double in the sixth, and he later scored on a balk to give the Rochester pitchers some cushion. McGlothin pitched a scoreless seventh to finish off Whitko and break their six-game winning streak.
Rochester improved to 7-2, 1-0. Whitko fell to 7-2, 0-1.
Whitko came in with a .328 team batting average, and they were averaging over nine runs per game. They got a run on Jaxon Harper’s RBI single in the fourth to cut the Rochester lead to 3-1.
Whitko threatened in the fifth after a two-out double from Isaiah Cripe and Logan Hoffman’s bunt single. Hoffman would then steal second to put the tying run in scoring position, but Huffman got Riley Harman, who came in with a .350 average, on a grounder to McGlothin at short to retire the side.
“I pitched against them last year, and I was very fastball-dominant in that, so I thought let’s just do the same thing, and I’d say it worked out pretty well,” Huffman said.
Huffman got the early lead on McGlothin’s homer off Harper, a rare shot over the right field fence at Bob Copeland Field.
Carson Paulik followed with an infield hit and stole second and later scored on Jake Seuferer’s RBI single. Brayden Zink added another RBI single later in the inning.
“It got us going right away,” Good said. “We talked about that all week long about coming out ready to go. Sometimes it takes us an inning or four or five to get going, and we wanted to make sure we were jumping on them early today. So I thought it was just Tarick squaring a ball up. … Probably not going to hit a lot of them, but he squared that thing up and got us going.”
Huffman faced the minimum nine batters through three innings. He walked David Ousley to start the third, but Seuferer, Rochester’s catcher, erased Ousley on a caught stealing as part of a double play when Brent Bowers struck out.
Huffman retired the side 1-2-3 in the first, second and sixth innings. Errorless Zebra defense and Huffman’s penchant for throwing first-pitch strikes helped him, according to Good.
“Huff was ready to go,” Good said. “When he knows he’s starting, he’s locked in. He just kept them off-balance. He’s a weak-contact guy. I know Whitko’s got some good numbers, but we wanted to get out here and test them today and see how they’d stack up against us.”
Huffman said he had been dealing with some “shoulder stuff” prior to the game, and he was not sure how he would pitch after a shaky outing against Culver Academy on April 14. He said it is an issue for many pitchers as they come back from spring break.
“My ball naturally kind of cuts in, so I think that was most of it, and I think I was jamming them a lot, so they couldn’t extend their hands and get to the ball. I think that played a lot into it.”
In the sixth, Ferverda ripped a double over Hoffman’s head in left field to score Ethan Medina and Zakk Parks. Medina had walked with one out and reached second when Zink reached on an error. Parks came in to pinch-run for Zink.
“Big fan of Ferv,” Good said. “He’s just an athlete. He’s trying to find his home out here on the baseball field a little bit. We’ve been bouncing him back between varsity and JV and just get him some reps. I liked him in that situation. I told him the inning before he’d probably hit there, so he had some time to prepare and got a fastball and just drove it out there to left-center field. Huge double for us, scored two there to kind of take some wind out of their sail and bring that momentum back over to our dugout.”
Rochester 6, Whitko 1
Whitko 000 100 0 – 1 5 1
Rochester 300 003 X – 6 7 0
WP – Aaron Huffman (6 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K)
LP – Jaxon Harper (5 ⅓ IP, 6 H, 6 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 1 HBP< 2 K)
2B – Isaiah Cripe (WHI), Colton Ferverda (RHS)
HR – Tarick McGlothin (RHS)