Kyle Barrett was virtually untouchable Friday afternoon, and no one had a better view of the left-hander's dominant day than Beyer High catch Dillon Usiak.
"He was hitting all his spots with the fastball, then he began using a slider he's been working on," Usiak said. "Once he got going, he just owned the hitters."
Barrett allowed one hit during six shutout innings, as the Patriots pleased the home crowd with a 5-1 win over Modesto to open the Modesto Metro Conference.
The most significant change in Barrett's game from a year ago, Usiak pointed out, was that the senior was ahead of the hitters.
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"We were going to the slider on 1-2 pitches," Usiak said. "It looks like a fastball, coming in on a level plane, but breaks away from lefties and into righthanders."
Barrett was 7-0 with a 1.02 ERA as a junior, but walked 41 batters in 55 innings -- five per game. He walked four Panthers (2-6), but it didn't hurt him.
"He was getting his first pitch in for a strike, then he'd toy with them," Usiak said, after Barrett struck out seven of the 20 batters he faced. "I've caught Kyle since Bel Passi (Little League) and he likes an up-tempo game, so I try to keep him in that rhythm."
Beyer (4-5) gave Barrett plenty of help, with three runs in the first and two in the fourth.
Leadoff hitter Joey Roy walked to start the first, stole second, then scored on Josh Young's single. Blake Barber hit an RBI double and came in on a passed ball, putting Beyer in charge and forcing the Panthers' hitters to be aggressive in hopes of producing some runs.
It played into Barrett's game. He had the ball around the plate, but with enough variety to keep hitters guessing. He induced two pop-ups in the sixth, before striking out the final batter he faced.