Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

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]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Cup-winning Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk makes Hockey Hall of Fame

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Hall of Fame coach Scotty Bowman said Dave Andreychuk's name has surfaced often the past eight years with the selection committee.

    30 Oct 2001:  Left wing Dave Andreychuk #25 of the Tampa Bay Lightning skates towards the blue line during the NHL game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada.  The Maple Leafs defeated the Lightning 3-2.  Mandatory Credit:  Dave Sanford /Allsport
  2. Rays acquire slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria from Marlins

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Chaim Bloom said the Rays weren't necessarily in the market for a shortstop. The team has a number of those. But when the Marlins recently began shopping Adeiny Hechavarria, well, that was too much to pass up.

    Adeiny Hechavarria has emerged as one of baseball’s top defensive shortstops in the past three seasons with the Marlins.
  3. Rays at Pirates, 7:05 p.m. Tuesday, Pittsburgh

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Pirates

    7:05, PNC Park

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Probable pitchers

    Rays: Alex Cobb (6-5, 4.05)

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Alex Cobb #53 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait during the Tampa Bay Rays photo day on February 18, 2017 at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Floida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
  4. Lightning journal: Forward Yanni Gourde agrees to two-year deal

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Just three years ago, Yanni Gourde was fighting to stay in pro hockey.

    Tampa Bay Lightning center Yanni Gourde celebrates after scoring against the Florida Panthers during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 11, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) TPA108
  5. What they're saying about Dave Andreychuk making Hall of Fame

    Lightning Strikes

    "Dave helped me so much when I was just starting my career, a young kid that was looking to find his way as a hockey player, a person and a member of the Tampa Bay community. In addition to watching him compile such awe-inspiring statistics, I remember him as a big brother to me and many others, making sure all the …