ALLSTON, Mass. — Marc Pelletier didn’t care what his pitch counter said after the eighth inning when it came to his starter Andrew Hamel.
The coach knew his big lefty has pitched well enough this season to have plenty of wins in the column, but that elusive victory hasn’t shown up for Hamel yet.
With 120 pitches after eight innings, Hamel needed 17 to get through the ninth to finish off his first victory of the season and an all-important 5-1 victory over Boston Latin in the preliminary round of the Division 1 North tournament, at Harvard University. It was a fitting first victory for Hamel, as the lefty picked up the first tournament win for the Raiders in three seasons.
“Andy is a pretty smart kid on the mound,” said Pelletier. “He’s had some tough-luck losses all year. For him to get his first victory against a DCL team, I’m very, very proud of him. I didn’t know what his pitch count was in the eighth, but I wasn’t asking.”
Hamel struck out 10 and only allowed one earned run in nine innings. He scattered five hits and only surrendered three walks in his 137-pitch outing.
“Part of it has always been me,” said Hamel of his hard luck this season. “I need to go out there and throw strikes. Sometimes it happens and sometime it doesn’t. It worked out great last year, but this year it’s been on and off.
Hamel throws a three-quarter arm slot and sometimes might dip a little bit lower than that, which could be a big deceiving with his big presence on the mound. Hamel also had his offspeed and secondary pitches working well as he compiled several of his strikeouts on curveballs down in the zone, and half of his strikeouts came with the hitter’s bat resting on their shoulder.
“He had his second and third pitch today,” said Pelletier. “When you have your curveball against a left-handed hitter, and then he runs his two-seamer away from a righty, you can do things. When you don’t have a second or third pitch you are living out there with one bullet.”
Added Hamel: “The curveball worked well today. I was able to locate it and I could throw it for an out pitch when I needed to.”
Quick Strike: Matt McDermott helped Hamel ease into that comfort level on the mound as he rocketed a three-run shot in the top of the first off of Pat Naughton to rush the Raiders on top in the first inning.
McDermott went opposite field off the left-handed Naughton to clear the fence down the right field line.
“I was really just looking to not do too much and put it in play,” said McDermott, who also made a slick play in right with a catch going away on the warning track . “I got a good piece in my first at-bat. … It felt pretty good.”
Pelletier was hoping for a quick start off of Naughton, a pitcher heralded in the DCL, and he got that from his offensive leader.
“We thought it was a pop up,” said Pelletier. “Then we saw the right fielder sprinting and then it carried the shrubs. We take an hour bus ride through the city of Lawrence into the city of Boston and then we go big fly in the first inning. It kind of set the tone for us.”