By: Greg Levinsky
HYANNIS – An 0-2 record and 3.37 ERA in the regular season did not do justice to Falmouth Commodores starting pitcher Mitchell Stone’s success. The Oklahoma State rising sophomore never ceded more than three earned runs in any of his seven starts, but saved his best outing of the summer for the playoffs.
Stone (6.0 scoreless innings, 4 hits and 5 strikeouts) threw an efficient 75 pitches (49 strikes) and allowed a season-low five baserunners. He earned the win to help the third-seeded Falmouth Commodores top second-seeded Hyannis Harbor Hawks 2-1 on Monday at McKeon Park.
“Just threw strikes, took it one pitch at a time,” Stone said. “I told [Commodores pitching coach Mike] Landry that my word of the day was ‘efficiency’ and it ended up being that.”
Playoff contests across the league were washed out on Saturday night, and all four of games were pushed back to Sunday. But the Commodores and Harbor Hawks had to wait another day as the field’s draining system couldn’t withstand the vast amounts of water.
Stone (Oklahoma State) was in command early and often in his team-leading eighth start of the summer. He waited an extra 48 hours to pitch due to consecutive cancellations, and said it didn’t hamper his preparation.
Commodores head coach Jeff Trundy said Stone is finding his stride after missing nearly his entire freshman spring at Oklahoma State.
“There’s a lot to be said for who Mitchell Stone is,” Trundy said. “He didn’t pitch much this spring, so I honestly believe he’s coming into his own now.
“It was a great outing at the right time.”
Stone pitched five scoreless in his only other appearance against the Harbor Hawks, and started with a scoreless frame highlighted by an inning ending 4-6-3 double-play off Cape League MVP Matt Barefoot (Campbell). He induced inning ending double-plays to end the second and sixth. Both of his scoreless appearances have come against the Harbor Hawks.
“To see him having this outing tonight is pleasing for everybody that’s a part of ‘Dore nation,” Trundy said.
“Getting all these starts up here against the best competition in the country, I definetly grew a whole lot this summer,” Stone said.
Although team home run leader Davis Sims (Western Kentucky) and batting average leader Kyle Stowers (Stanford) were out of the Commodores lineup, Logan Davidson (Clemson) gave the Commodores the lead.
He started the second inning by taking the first pitch he saw just inches over the wall in straightaway center field. Davidson’s solo shot was his second home run in three games and third of the summer.
“It’s definetly important early in the game to jump ahead and put the pressure on their side,” Davidson said. “The plan was to ambush the fastball and he gave it to me down and a little in. Just kinda shot the hands at it and got it out.”
“He’s always a threat,” Trundy said “Any time he steps into the batter’s box something good can happen.”
Holy Cross rising junior Alex Volpi earned the start at first base – his first start in the field after appearing as the designated hitter in two appearances.
Harbor Hawks starter Ryan Pepiot (Butler) came into the game riding a pair of scoreless appearances against the Commodores totaling 3.0 scoreless innings. Other than Davidson’s home run, Pepiot pitched well in a season-high 5.1 inning, eight strikeout performance. He stranded runners on the corners in the sixth, and a sacrifice fly by Cameron Cannon (Arizona) doubled the Commodores lead.
Brent Killam (Georgetown) relieved Stone and allowed a run in the seventh to cut the Commodores lead in half. Mitchell Miller (Clemson) escaped a scoreless eighth with a pair of diving catches from second baseman Hayden Cantrelle (University of Louisiana).
Nick Mikolajchak (Sam Houston State) allowed a leadoff single, but earned the save with a scoreless frame.
“They’ve been awesome all year,” Stone said. “Nick’s one of the best closers in the nation, and I’d put the ball in his hands any day.”
Up next: Game two of the series is scheduled for a 6:00 p.m. first pitch tomorrow, Tuesday August 7, at Guv Fuller Field in Falmouth.
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Greg Levinsky can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregLevinsky