Four Cadets pitchers go six scoreless to edge York Revs

By DN WRITING STAFF | July 18, 2023

Cadet’s Colin Francis is late with tag as York’s Grayson Copenhaver dives back safely to first base.

By Joe Hofmann

Cadets Baseball coach Mike Higginbotham had a long, long ride ahead of him Sunday night.

It was 10:30 p.m. as he was gathering his belongings out of the dugout.

“Please make this quick,” he said with a smile to a reporter.

A three-hour excursion back to the Maryland-Virginia area awaited him.

A long weekend of baseball at Diamond Nation was behind him.

And Higginbotham was exhausted.

No doubt, he enjoyed the journey home.

A terrific pitching performance will do that to a coach.

Four different Cadets pitchers combined to blank the York Revs over the final six innings on the way to a 3-2 victory in a 16U Mid-Summer Classic game.

In an effort to keep his pitchers’ arms healthy, Higginbotham likes to spread the innings around.

With a staff like he has, it is easy to see why.

The four pitchers permitted just two hits during the final six frames with seven strikeouts and only one walk.

While the coach would have loved to have said ‘Good night’ and gone to sleep rather than drive all the way home, his staff spent the night putting Revs hitters to bed.

“We like to use 3-4 pitchers per game,” Higginbotham said. “We count pitches and we want to take care of their arms.”

Starter Peyton Weaver was the only Cadet pitcher to struggle as he allowed two runs in the first inning on one hit but walked four.

Little did anyone know that’s all the Revs would get.

Kaden Beaverson led off the game by legging out an infield hit before teammates Logan Kessler, Cade Flinchbaugh and Grayson Copenhaver (bases-loaded walk) walked. Manny Cartagena hit a sacrifice fly and Rafael Hernandez walked to re-load the bases.

Weaver was clearly on the ropes – but catcher Ezra Myung picked off Hernandez at first base, ending the threat.

“Our first baseman (Colin Francis) called the play,” Higginbotham said. “Ezra made a good throw and Colin made a good tag.”

In the bottom of the first, the Cadets scored three times to take the lead for good.

Tyler Seils walked, Nate Hawton-Henley singled and Francis singled home a run. One out later, Jason Seils reached on an infield hit to bring in another run. A short time later, Francis scored on a balk to put the Cadets ahead, 3-2.

York Rev’s Logan Kessler crosses the plate in the first inning as his team built a 2-0 lead.

“We were able to execute our offense with walks, hits and stealing bases,” Higginbotham said.

Oddly, the two teams combined for five first-inning runs and neither scored another run the rest of the game.

From that point on, the Cadets pitchers stole the show, Weaver included, who pitched a 1-2-3 second inning.

Weaver gave way to Caleb Hawton-Henley (0 runs, 1 hit, 2 Ks in 2 IP), Seils (0 runs, 2 hits, 2 Ks, 1 W in 2 IPs), and Nate Hawton-Henley (3 Ks in 1 IP).

“Peyton struggled in the first but then he shut the door on them,” Higginbotham said. “Tyler did a great job in his two innings, and so did Caleb.”

The most impressive, clearly, was Nate Hawton-Henley, who slammed the door in the seventh with a 1-2-3 inning, using his 87-89 MPH heater. He has hit 92 in the past.

“I love the ball in my hands,” he said. “I have a lot of confidence to come in and shut the door.”

When the 16-year-old Hawton-Henley was younger, his velocity seemed to have peaked. But he put a lot of time in the weight room in the offseason and his velocity began climbing once again.

“I worked hard to get my velo up,” he said. “I did a lot of stability lifting. Once I got more stability, it unlocked my velo.”

It also inspired his twin brother, Caleb.

“It’s awesome always having someone around who helps you get better,” he said.

On two different occasions, the Cadets were aided by the defense of fleet-footed center fielder Nick Felton, who made a diving catch of an Anthan Miller liner in the fourth and later ran into the right-center alley to bring in a Nicholas Bender liner.

The Cadets pitchers did all the rest. Earlier in the tournament, they had watched the Revs hitters and knew that a good fastball would be enough to handcuff their lineup.

Turns out, they were right.

“We knew they couldn’t hit velo, so we just had to throw strikes,” Caleb Hawton-Henley said.

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