CLEVELAND – East Hamilton baseball coach Steve Garland needed just two hitters to know his Hurricanes were in for a long and cold night Monday at Cleveland’s Raider Field.
Temperatures in the low 40s made it cold and senior Cleveland ace Camden Sewell made it long.
Sewell, the University of Tennessee signee, used a devastating slider, a tight curve ball and a 90-plus mph fastball to strike out 13 East Hamilton hitters in pitching a complete-game two-hit shutout in Cleveland’s 8-0 District 5-AAA and season opener for both squads.
“When our two hole hitter waved at those sliders in that first inning, I knew it was going to be a long one.
Pitchers are always a little bit ahead of hitters early in the year, and then when you put Camden in the mix as the pitcher, well, you just have to say hat’s off to him. He’s a great pitcher and an even better kid,” Garland said afterwards.
Sewell, who has been limited in preseason with a sore back, took the hill with a bevy of scouts and their radar guns in tow behind the plate and proceeded to put on a show. He went the entire seven innings, threw 108 pitches with 67 of them being strikes, and carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning to garner the win.
“I felt pretty confident tonight, especially with that defense behind me. I trust those guys and once we got the lead, I just wanted to pound the strike zone,” Sewell said.
As for the throng of 20 or so pro scouts in what looked like a state trooper’s convention with the speed guns clocking every pitch, Sewell was even more determined.
“It doesn’t bother me in the least, in fact, I probably thrive a little more on having them here,” Sewell said.
Added Cleveland head coach Preston Scoggins: “Those guys wouldn’t be back there if he hadn’t done this before. He enjoys it, that’s for sure.”
The youthful Hurricanes, who replace all but one starter from last year’s squad, probably not as much, especially with the chill in the air.
“We made some mistakes, but honestly, you aren’t going to win many games when you don’t score any runs. I’m glad to get these guys out here and get them tested. I would rather be sharp in May than in March, and we will get back at it tomorrow,” Garland said.
The Blue Raiders got a controversial run in the first when the home plate ump awarded Hayden Tinsley first on a swing and a miss saying the catcher interfered with the swing. Kellye Cawood, who had three hits on the night, followed with a single off Hurricane starter Isaac Moulds, and a walk loaded the bases. Landen Beaty grounded out the second to force across the run, and ultimately that proved all that was needed with Sewell in control.
Nonetheless, Cleveland added four more runs in the second and three more in the fourth.
“It was nice to get some crooked numbers up. Camden had to really bear down a lot last year in some tight games, and it allowed him to just bear down and pitch. You can’t simulate what he does in the cage. He had really tight spin on the slider and such good depth on his curve tonight. It makes for a tough one in the batter’s box,” Scoggins said.
The four-run second was precipitated by a leadoff walk to Ethan Jones and a sac bunt which was fielded in front of the mount and thrown to second where Jones easily beat the relay. Bryce Witt loaded the bases with a sharp single to left and a wild pitch sent Jones scurrying home for a 2-0 lead.
Cawood then produced a two-out bullet to center that plated two more runs. He took second on the throw to the plate and third on a wild pitch before scoring on Sewell’s infield single deep in the hole at short for a 5-0 margin.
“If we had communicated a little better on that bunt and just gotten the out, we could have escaped that damage. The early catcher’s interference call and that one really hurt us, and we threw it around some in that fifth. Again, though, none of it matters if you only get two hits and don’t score, but to look up and see an 8-0 on the scoreboard, well, it should have been closer,” Garland explained.
The three-run fifth got started with Witt’s infield single on a ball knocked down up the middle. He stole second and Cawood followed with his third hit and third RBI. An errant pickoff attempt at first sent Cawood all the way to third and after Beaty walked to put runners on the corners, a double steal allowed Cawood to stroll home.
Another errant pickoff at second sent Beaty to third and an infield error produced the final run.
Sewell, meanwhile, cruised through the minimum until a leadoff walk in the fourth. Will Campbell broke up the no-hitter with a opposite field single to right and pinch-hitter Noah Pridemore had a two-out single in the seventh before Sewell ended the game with his 13th K.
Cleveland had eight hits with Cawood and Witt each getting three apiece.
East Hamilton reliever Walker O’Rear, the third pitcher of the night for Garland, retired all six hitters he faced in two perfect innings. He allowed a hit, but picked the runner off of second on a nice spin move.
The two teams will go at again on Tuesday on the Hurricanes home diamond starting at 5 o’clock.
EAST HAMILTON 000 000 0 – 0 2 2
CLEVELAND 140 300 x – 8 8 0
Moulds, Carr (4), O’Rear (6) and Campbell; Sewell and Jones.