PS2’s Robbie Hughes was thorough in a complete game shutout with 12 strikeouts.
By Luis Torres
Robbie Hughes and Evan Gettle had a conversation before the start of the seventh inning about what they wanted to do.
Hughes was in the middle of a masterful performance on the mound, having thrown up six scoreless frames for PS2 Athletics. Gettle, his coach, wasn’t sure if Hughes had enough in the tank to go back on the bump to try and finish off his outing.
But Hughes looked at him and said there was no way he was coming out of the game. Gettle obliged to his starting pitcher’s request, and he was happy he let him go back on the mound.
The 6-5, 190 righty Hughes tossed a complete game with 12 strikeouts as PS2 Athletics defeated the Lehigh Valley Patriots, 4-0, in 17/18U August Showdown Wood Bat play at McKnight Field in Belle Mead on Friday.
“If you can have a guy throw a complete game with 12 punchouts, he’s the guy you want,” Gettle said. “Robbie is one of those guys who’s a quiet leader. He’s done it both ways with the bat and on the mound. You can’t have a better way to start a tournament and you can’t have a better team leader than Rob Hughes. Couldn’t be more proud of that kid.”
Hughes was efficient and dominant, but he really didn’t get going until the middle innings.
That’s when he started to get a feel for his change-up, and he started working it better with a fastball that was in the low-to-mid 80s to keep the Lehigh Valley Patriots hitters off balance.
He struck out the side in the third inning, and he struck out the side in the seventh inning, needing just 13 pitches in the final frame to end the contest.
“With that lead, I was definitely able to pitch with a little bit more confidence,” said Hughes, a Wayne Hills grad committed to FDU-Florham. “I was able to go out there, and I was trying to work a little bit harder with my fastball and finding my spots. Even though I really didn’t have much off-speed, I was able to get my change-up across, which really helped.”
Hughes also set the tone at the plate. In the top of the fourth inning, he ripped an opposite-field leadoff double. Four batters later, Bryan Rios smacked a two-run double to give PS2 Athletics a 2-0 advantage.
In the fifth inning, Hughes hit a sacrifice fly to extend the lead to 3-0 before Joe Sabbath hit an RBI double in the sixth inning to make it 4-0.
Three of PS2 Athletics runs came off Lehigh Valley Patriots starting pitcher Hunter Rydell, who was cruising along through his first three innings of work.
But Hughes was a bit better than his starting pitching counterpart, and he got stronger as the game went on, recording nine of his 12 strikeouts in the final five innings.
“That’s the goal every time I step out there, strike out the side,” Hughes said.
Gettle said Hughes’ performance was as impressive as he’s seen the righty throw. He said Hughes has been working hard to put together an outing like he had on Friday, and it’s one that sets the tone for the rest of the weekend.
“We really needed to make a statement, and today is a huge statement day and I’ve never seen a kid really want to go and get it,” Gettle said. “It was a beautiful performance by him.”