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Cotey: Mitchell centerfielder stares down pressure

TAMPA — The ball sailed deep toward rightfield, the wind putting a tail on it and the Alonso fielders furiously trying to track it down.

It almost cleared the fence.

Just as importantly, it cleared the bases.

By the time Mitchell centerfielder Kevin Games rolled into second base with a double, two of his teammates had scored and Mitchell had a 6-5 lead in the last inning against one of Tampa Bay's two remaining undefeated baseball teams that Matt Hewitt would finish off.

Games said he was merely just trying to "put the bat on the ball and hope for the best."

In fact, Games was just a snippet here and a snippet there of understated glory afterward, when in fact, the sophomore had just delivered one of the greatest hits in Mitchell baseball history.

Yep. I said it.

Oh sure, you can argue that's probably a bit of an overstatement. If you haven't seen this team hit in years past, I mean.

But this was a big game, against one of Tampa Bay's two remaining undefeated teams, against one of the best dozen or so pitchers in the area.

And the Mustangs delivered. And then delivered some more.

With their bats.

In the third inning, it was Games drilling a homer to the deepest part of the ballpark off a guy, Ray Delphey, who was coming off a no-hitter and was sporting a 0.24 ERA.

Once the Mustangs gave up that 2-1 lead on a grand slam, it was Patrick Schuster's double and a sacrifice fly by Anthony Ritz cutting it to 5-4.

Then in the seventh, Games again.

With two outs, he drove in the first two runs Jose Fernandez had allowed all season.

"The better the pitcher," said Wilcox, "the better the hitter Kevin Games is."

In a game pitting the kid with the 0.30 ERA against the kid with the 0.24 ERA, the kid just a few inches over 5 feet tall walked out the hero.

This is pointed out, and he smiles and quickly looks around, acknowledging that he is dwarfed by his teammates.

"He comes in a small package," Wilcox said, "but has incredibly fast hands."

The homer was only his second. The double was his second of the year, too.

But he's young. We'll see more of this.

One year, in the Holiday Little League, he hit 20 homers.

Against Delphey, he hit a fastball, and the Alonso star had been clocked at 93 mph.

Against Fernandez, it was a curveball.

With two outs.

Wilcox confesses to coaching more than his share of what he calls "five o'clock hitters," kids who looked much better when swinging within the comfy confines of a batting cage, not so much after the game's first pitch.

That would make Games a 9:02 p.m. hitter, or thereabouts.

His game is speed and defense. He's hitting .360, but his job is merely to get on base and then run around them while guys like Doug Burlett, Matt Hart and Schuster do the heavy lifting.

"I'm the scrappy one," he said.

But scrappy does not do his effort Tuesday night justice.

It was supposed to a pitchers' duel. Something around 1-0, or 2-1.

A dozen or so scouts were armed with radar guns and ready.

But the game never met those expectations, because a scrappy little centerfielder exceeded his.

Cotey: Mitchell centerfielder stares down pressure 03/24/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 24, 2009 11:28pm]

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