By: Matt McHugh
August 3, 2017
Yarmouth — As Thursday’s game at Y-D, the final regular season game, started to get out of hand, coach Mike Roberts had some fun with his personnel, and used two position players on the mound — left fielder Brett Kinneman (NC State) and utility player Thomas Dillard (Ole Miss) both toed the rubber for their first pitching appearances since high school.
With the Kettleers trailing 9-4 in the 4th inning, Roberts called in Kinneman from the bullpen. Kinneman had been listed as an available pitcher for the last week, but finally came in for his first appearance on Thursday.
“[Roberts] kind of told me all week that he’d use me if we absolutely needed it, but last night he told me it was more than likely that I was gonna throw today,” Kinneman said. “I felt pretty good. I was just hoping I could throw strikes. My arm’s in pretty good shape, so it didn’t feel too bad out there.”
Kinneman threw a 1-2-3 fourth inning, and the only hit he surrendered in his two innings was a solo home run to Nick Quintana (Arizona) in the fifth inning.
“It’s been in the works for a while now,” right fielder Griffin Conine (Duke) said. “I was really glad to get him up there and see what he could do. He threw pretty well. I think we were all pleasantly surprised.”
Kinneman threw mostly fastballs, but brought back some stuff from his high school days as well.
“[Catcher] Ivan [Gonzalez] wouldn’t call any sliders,” Kinneman said. “I was kind of disappointed by that, so I threw mostly fastballs. I got that one strikeout with the slider. That brought back memories of pitching in high school, so it was a really good time.”
In the sixth inning, Kinneman swapped places with Dillard, who started the game in left field. Dillard went on to throw two scoreless innings while striking out four batters.
“It was fun to get out there, but I was just trying to take some pressure off of our relievers,” Dillard said. “Been a taxing week with the doubleheader, so I was just glad I could throw strikes and eat up some innings.”
Conine added: “I thought Brett was more of a natural pitcher than Dillard before I saw them throw, but Dillard honestly impressed me more. He had everything working. That was a lot of fun to watch — to see him get some innings and have some fun.”
The Kettleers had already clinched home field in the first round, and with the loss they locked up the no. 2 seed in the West division. They will host the Bourne Braves at 4 p.m. on Saturday for game 1 of the first round.
- The Kettleers also let the pitchers have some fun: Jayce Vancena (Michigan), Mike Byrne (Florida), and Clark Cota (UNC-Wilmington) all got plate appearances. Vancena, Chase Shugart (Texas), and Chase Cohen (Georgia Southern) played right field and second base, respectively. Byrne was the only one of the group to reach base — he got hit on the arm with the first pitch he saw.
- Shortstop Chandler Avant (Alabama) left the game after being hit by a pitch in the leg in the fourth inning. Avant was 1-1 on the day, and is hitting .307 over the last week.
- Griffin Conine finished tied with Brewster’s Chandler Taylor (Alabama) for the league lead with 9 home runs.