Brader Butz of LVBA fires away during opening game of Weekend Independence Firecracker.
By Luis Torres
Brader Butz had one thing going through his mind as he continued to rack up inning after inning: Stay hydrated on what ended up being a 90-plus degree day at Diamond Nation in Flemington on Friday.
Butz had run into trouble in two separate innings but continued to push through the middle innings. That’s when fatigue kicked in.
However, Butz dug deep and was able to throw six innings, allowing four runs as Lehigh Valley Baseball Academy (LVBA) defeated Diamond Baseball Academy 14U, 7-4, in 14U Weekend Independence Firecracker play.
Butz, a rising freshman, wasn’t overpowering during his performance on the mound. He pitched to contact, allowing the defense behind him to pick him up whenever a ball was hit in play.
He would throw 90 pitches in what ended up being a gutsy performance.
“I just threw strikes,” Butz said. “It got tough at the end. I was (feeling) a little bit (exhausted). I just stayed hydrated.”
Butz got plenty of help from his offense, thanks to a five-run second inning. Diamond Baseball Academy took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second, capitalizing on an error after Butz allowed two hits.
The rally started with a hit-by-pitch, and then a couple of mistakes by Diamond Baseball Academy allowed LVBA to put up a crooked number to give Butz some breathing room.
“We got a little bit of a gift,” coach Ray Rabeh said. “A little bit of miscommunication from the team, but it’s still up to us to put the ball in play. You’ve got to be able to take advantage of things like that. We added a couple of more after that, which really helps. One bad inning can take over a game.”
The insurance runs ended up being a difference.
Diamond Baseball Academy cut the deficit to two after tagging Butz for two more runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. Butz wasn’t fazed after his lead was cut to just one.
He ended his outing by retiring seven of his last nine batters, using a high-to-low 70s fastball, according to the Diamond Nation scoreboard radar gun, to get most of his outs.
“He battled through, Rabeh said. “The defense made plays, and he threw strikes. He was in the strike zone all day and kept runners at a minimum. It was a good battle. Six innings, 90 pitches on a Friday afternoon game is going to be pretty good on a hot day.”
Rabeh said he wanted to have his team get off to the right start this weekend. He wanted to come away with a win and see what his team had against another talented 14U squad. Rabeh added he only has four kids on his team currently in high school. The rest, just like Butz, will be entering high school in the coming years.
Rabeh is confident his young team can win the rest of the games this weekend.
“You’ll see us in the end,” he said.