Ravenswood’s Chase Swain hard to stop
Chase Swain received an intentional walk in the bottom of the fifth inning.
What was a little different about it was there were two outs and nobody on base in a 2-2 ballgame.
Turned out to be a good call by Williamstown High skipper Terry Smith, because the next Ravenswood High batter, clean-up hitter Andrew Anglin, flew out to center field to end the frame.
Makes me wonder, though. What if Smith had elected not to pitch to the hard-hitting Swain in the first inning when the Red Devil senior slugged a two-run homer, his 10th dinger of the spring, off Williamstown righty Cullen Cutright?
Well, just maybe, Ravenswood doesn’t score two runs.
The left-handed-swinging Swain also singled to right to lead off the third inning, but no damage was done as the Red Devils went scoreless in the frame.
But in the bottom of the seventh, with RHS trailing 5-3, Swain again led off the frame with a single against WHS reliever Nate Suprano. Baseball coaches like to say that “hitting is contagious.” In this case, it definitely was as Swain’s hit was followed by three more Red Devil knocks, which tied the game.
Suprano retired the next two Ravenswood batters, but the third one, pinch hitter Hayden Swain — Chase’s younger brother — delivered a clutch two-strike single up the middle which won the game, 6-5, to clinch the Red Devils’ third consecutive Class A sectional championship.
Makes me wonder.
What if the Yellowjackets had walked Chase Swain intentionally to start the seventh? It would’ve been a radical departure from the book, but if hitting is contagious, it certainly might’ve interrupted the Red Devils’ rhythm a little bit.
And, besides, it worked back in the fifth inning.
Frankly, if the Yellowjackets had walked Swain — who was batting over .500 going into the contest — in all four of his at-bats, they just might’ve won the ballgame.
Of course, we’ll never know if the strategy would’ve worked.
Thing is, if Swain can’t beat you with the bat, he can do it with his arm.
The hard-throwing righty started on the hill and struck out nine Yellowjackets before being relieved by right-hander Lakin Tucker with two outs in the top of the sixth inning. When Swain moved over to the shortstop position, the Red Devils were trailing, 3-2.
“Chase was at his pitch limit,” said RHS head coach (and father) Wes Swain. “He was at 112 pitches. So we had to pull him out.
“He kept us in the game, but the one thing I wasn’t pleased with was that he went to a lot of 3-ball counts, and that runs your pitch count up.”
The elder Swain paused.
“With Chase’s stuff, he ought to be able to challenge them a little bit,” the coach continued. “But it’s tough when you’re pitching and you’re pitching in stress situations the whole game. There’s never a relaxing moment.
“As a former pitcher, when you’re in a situation where it’s 2-1 or 2-2, everything’s stress pitches. If you’re up 6-1, you can just relax, and throw the ball and challenge people.”
To the Yellowjackets’ credit, they hung in there against Ravenswood’s ace right-hander, who finished with a no-decision. (Tucker got the win.)
“Williamstown’s got some nice players and Terry (Smith) always does a really good job with his teams,” Wes Swain said.
Ravenswood, meanwhile, moves on to regional play. And, you have to like the Red Devils’ chances, especially with a guy like Chase Swain in the lineup.
Contact Ron Johnston at firstname.lastname@example.org.