By: Matt McHugh
July 21, 2017
CHATHAM — Right-hander Chase Shugart (Texas) was one of the most effective relievers for the Cotuit Kettleers (17-15-1), but with starting spots opening up, he earned the start on Friday at Chatham (16-18). He shined in his first start since high school, going 3.2 innings, allowing just one earned run and striking out a season-high nine batters.
Shugart’s start put the Kettleers in a good position through the first four innings, and the team rode an offensive explosion to a 12-3 rout.
“It was a pretty good outing, especially since I hadn’t started since senior year of high school,” Shugart said. “I would’ve liked to cut the walks down and keep the ball down more, but I can’t complain after that outing.”
Shugart’s outing was extra special, with his Granny and Nana in the stands to watch him in his best outing of the season, making the trip up from Texas a few days ago.
“You see the grip marks on the railing?” Granny Shugart said. “I can’t sit down on the couch at home. I have to stand up and pace back and forth whenever he’s pitching.”
Shugart is normally amped up as well, using that adrenaline as fuel coming out of the bullpen. However, Friday’s start also meant a change in approach.
“I figured my velocity would be down,” Shugart said. “When I come out of the bullpen, I’m just tyring to amp it up and let it go. Here I had to locate and hit my spot. I was able to do that pretty well with my offspeed today.
Shugart had appeared in nine games for the Kettleers this season before Friday’s start, and had gone no longer than three innings all season. While the strikeouts were by far Shugart’s highest total of the summer, they brought back memories of his high school days.
“In 9th grade he was on varsity,” Nana said. “He had some games with 15 or 16 strikeouts per game, and a couple of shutouts.”
At Texas, Shugart has appeared in 61 games in his first two seasons, but has yet to make a single start. He has a career 3.98 ERA with 68 strikeouts.
“I was told in my exit interview at Texas that I would have the chance to start next year,” Shugart said. “I was expecting to come here and be a bullpen guy and start to work my way into a starting role. Hopefully it sticks like that, and I’m able to get the work in for next year.”
The Kettleers are starting to adjust to innings limits, losing Noah Davis (Santa Barbara) last week, and already moving Zane Collins (Wright State) to the bullpen. As a result, the team is in need of more starters, and Shugart has emerged as a serious candidate after Friday’s successful spot start.
“I’m definitely going to take a hard look at Chase starting towards the end of the season, because I think we have the bullpen to handle it,” coach Mike Roberts said. “We’ll make a decision about that after the all star game.”
The Kettleers are off on Saturday for the All-Star Game, and will host Chatham on Sunday at Lowell Park.
- The Kettleers launched three home runs in Friday’s win, and five of their 13 hits went for extra bases. Griffin Conine (Duke), Greyson Jenista (Wichita State), and Luke Alexander (Mississippi State) hit the home runs, while Ivan Gonzalez (West Virginia) hit a pair of doubles. The team had a .585 slugging percentage in the game.
- In the last seven games, Greyson Jenista is hitting .385 with two home runs, eight RBIs, and four stolen bases.
- Griffin Conine’s home run was his eighth of the season, and he is now in sole possession of the league lead. His 27 RBIs also lead the league.