By GARY HAWKINS
FARMINGDALE — A last-minute change in the starting pitching assignment didn’t help the Hall-Dale baseball team Friday. Neither did the fact the Bulldogs were facing Kaine Hutchins and two-time defending state champion Dirigo.
It added up to a 10-0 loss for Hall-Dale in a Mountain Valley Conference game called after six innings due to the mercy rule. Dirigo is 3-1, Hall-Dale is 3-2.
Junior left-hander Bobby Cumler was scheduled to start for the Bulldogs but arrived late after taking a test for his driver’s license (he passed) and didn’t feel he was ready to go. That left it up to junior Brian Allen, who pitched a shutout Monday against Spruce Mountain and was available to relieve. Allen struggled out of the gate, allowing five runs in the first inning on three hits, a walk and a hit batter.
“It put Brian in a tough position because mentally he didn’t have a chance to focus,” Hall-Dale coach Bob Sinclair said. “All of a sudden he was brought in on the mound and he wasn’t expecting it.”
Hutchins (2-1) struggled in the first inning, too. The junior right-hander allowed four walks in the first inning, but escaped damage when a runner missed a sign and was caught stealing. After that, he was nearly untouchable, allowing two walks and striking out seven over the final five innings. He had a no-hitter going until Ryan Sinclair broke it up with a solid single to right-center top open the bottom of the sixth.
“Nobody was talking to me about it,” Hutchins said. “I tried to remember if I had given up a hit. It didn’t really matter to me, I was pitching a good game and that was what I was happy about. It was good to pitch my first good game.”
Hutchins also delivered a two-run single in the first while Jack Brown (three hits) added an RBI single and Anthony Todd and Nick St. Germaine contributed run-scoring ground balls. The Cougars added three runs in the second as Brown singled in another run and Allen issued three more walks.
“This is the first game where we’ve played a real good game,” said Dirigo coach Ryan Palmer, who lost seven starters from last year’s Class C state championship team to graduation. “We’ve had two wins previous but we didn’t play well. We’re starting to play the way I know we can play.”
Cumler came into the game in the fourth inning and pitched well. He walked the first batter he faced and promply picked him off first base. He allowed two runs over the final three innings, walking six and striking out six.
“We went against him last year, he’s a good pitcher,” Hutchins said. “He’s got a good fastball, keeps it low, and he’s got a nice curveball.”
Cumler struggled with his control in the fifth and walked in a run, then in the sixth Brown picked up his third single of the game and scored on a base hit from Nick Hall.
“I hope we can rebound from this,” Sinclair said. “These are the games, you just have to let it go and try to be better for it.”