BETHEL — Telstar coach Bob Remington was hoping starting pitcher Ben Field could go deep into Thursday’s game with Mountain Valley, but it didn’t look very promising after a 30-pitch first and only slightly more efficient second and third innings.
Then came the fourth inning.
Field breezed through the top of the fourth, then the Rebels opened up some breathing room in the bottom half that allowed their ace to continue finding his groove with six strong innings in a 7-2 Telstar victory.
“I think we’re starting to develop into one of those teams where somebody goes on the mound and you expect to win. I think that’s starting to develop with them with Ben on the mound,” Remington said. “I think we’re at our best all the way around the field with him on the mound. That confidence thing is huge.”
Telstar (5-5) knocked 10 hits, led by two each from Corey, Howard, T.J. O’Connor and Mike Fitzmorris. That was plenty for Field, who struck out eight, walked three and allowed seven hits and two earned runs. He retired 10 of the final 12 batters he faced before giving way to Tyler Brown to close things out with a scoreless seventh.
“We’ve got fast guys in the outfield, good catchers, so I just let the defense do the work if I throw strikes,” Field said. “We had a very good offensive game. We hit the ball well.”
The Rebels jumped out to a 3-0 lead against Falcon starter Derek Volkernick on a Dan Whitney sacrifice fly in the first and a two-run double by Howard in the second. The Falcons (6-4) threatened as Field struggled to gain command, but they left five men on base through the first two innings.
“We had opportunities early on, but the Field kid, when he needed something, he came up with it,” Mountain Valley coach Steve LaPointe said. “You’ve got to give him credit. He’s come a long way from last year. I thought my starter, Derek, battled, too.
The Falcons finally broke through in the third when RBI singles by Volkernick and Tim Ross (two hits) with two out pulled them within 3-2.
Volkernick kept the Falcons within a run by escaping a two-on, one-out situation in the bottom of the third unscathed. But after Field’s first 1-2-3 inning in the top of the fourth, the Rebels tagged Volkernick for four runs. Drew Wilson scored on a wild pitch, Fitzmorris ripped a two-run single and Brown hit a sacrifice fly to score O’Connor with their seventh run.
Field cruised through the fifth inning on nine pitches, then struck out the side around the Rebels’ only error in the sixth to finish his day with 95 pitches.
“We want to bring Field back Monday (against Madison) on three days rest so we can pitch him three of our last five games, so when he hit 30 pitches in that first inning, I’m going ‘Oh no,'” Remington said. “I told the guys Ben was the only one I want to pitch more than one inning because we’ve got a game tomorrow (at Jay). His pitch count was still pretty high around the third inning and I said ‘We just need a low-pitch inning,’ and he got (a 13-pitch fourth) and after that was pretty good. Getting six innings out of him after that first inning was a huge surprise.
The young Rebels are themselves turning into a bit of a surprise this season.
“This is as many games as we won all of last year, total,” Field said.