By Jon Mettus
July 5, 2015
HYANNIS — Jack Klein (Stanford) wasn’t expecting to pitch.
But when he returned to the dugout after the bottom of the sixth inning, head coach Mike Roberts had surprising news: Klein was moving from center field to take over on the mound for the next inning.
“I didn’t know I was going to do it …” Klein said. “I kind of just pounded the glove and went out for it. It was fine. It’s all pretty simple. It’s baseball.”
Klein was rusty on the mound. He didn’t give up any hits or runs, but walked the bases loaded during his one inning of work. He threw 29 pitches — 10 for strikes — while facing six batters in the loss to Hyannis.
“It’s been a minute since I’ve pitched,” Klein said.
“That was not how that was supposed to go,” he continued. “Definitely rusty, but it was fun to be out there.”
The Kettleers starting center fielder hadn’t pitched since in a summer league a year ago, but immediately after his first game in Cotuit, Klein was throwing pitches in the bullpen. Two and a half weeks and two bullpen sessions later, he finally made his relief debut with the Kettleers trailing the Harbor Hawks, 11-2, at the time.
“When you play six games in a row we’re just trying to make sure that our pitching stays in good shape,” Roberts said of why he brought Klein in.
Klein spent top of the seventh warming up in the bullpen before tossing a few more warm-up pitches on the mound.
His first fastball came in at 88 miles per hour, then another at 89 mph before a changeup and a curveball.
“Oh my gosh, Roberts may use him as a pitcher,” one scout said.
“He should’ve been pitching this whole time,” another scout added.
Colby Bortles (Mississippi) fouled off Klein’s first pitch — a 90 mph fastball. The next fastball came in at 91 mph and after four pitches, Bortles lined out to short.
Matthew Kinney (Florida State), Justin Dunn (Boston College) and Mitch Stallings (Duke) lined up in front of the bullpen, partly to protect the players warming up from foul balls and partly to watch Klein go to work.
He walked the next batter, but then induced a ground ball to second from Corey Bird (Marshall). Cole Fabio (Bryant) fielded the ball and flipped it from his glove to Branden Berry (Cal State Northridge) at first.
Klein’s fastball was hitting 90 mph and his curveball was coming through at 74 mph. The biggest challenge, though, was getting the pitches to land in the strike zone.
“Curveball was pretty bad and the changeup was pretty bad, but it was fun,” Klein said with a laugh. “I had a good time doing it.”
After Klein walked the next two batters to load the bases and fell behind 3-0 in the count to Justin Arrington (Baylor), catcher Tim Susnara (Oregon) yelled out to Klein, “Don’t worry, don’t worry.”
Arrington took a called strike before breaking his bat on a ground ball to second for the final out of the inning. Klein took his glove off his hand, walked back to the dugout and fist bumped assistant coach Noah Scott.
Roberts said there’s a possibility of Klein seeing more work on the mound as the season goes on and Klein said he’s expecting to, though he still prefers playing the outfield and playing every day.
“I guess a lot of people think I have some potential out there so I have to practice it a little,” Klein said of pitching.