Many Pitman High School baseball players are familiar with the pressure that comes with playing meaningful, late-season Central California Conference games against crosstown rival Turlock.
Sophomore pitcher Brett Hagen is not one of those players.
Honestly, I just tried to keep my pitches low and my off-speed pitches not over the plate. I knew I had a great defense behind me. I was just trying not to do too much.
Pitman pitcher Brett Hagen
Hagen, coming off a rocky outing last week against second-place Buhach Colony, led the third-place Pride to a 5-0 victory over first-place Turlock on Tuesday at Pitman.
The right-hander threw just 87 pitches, limiting Turlock (13-9, 9-1) to five hits and striking out eight while walking one.
“Honestly, I just tried to keep my pitches low and my off-speed pitches not over the plate,” said Hagen, who threw first-pitch strikes to 14 of the 26 batters he faced. “I knew I had a great defense behind me. I was just trying not to do too much.”
With just five CCC games left for each club, Pitman needs to sweep its rival to have a legitimate shot at the No. 1 seed. The Pride also needs to keep winning to fend off Merced and Golden Valley for the No. 3 berth.
In other words, Tuesday was a virtual must win for Pitman (14-8, 6-4), and Hagen looked unfazed by the magnitude of the game.
“A lot of maturity shown today,” said Pride coach John Acha, who guided his club to the league’s No. 1 playoff seed in 2015. “He did what I expected him to do; he’s shown us throughout this season what he has and what he can do. He had his stuff, kept the guys off balance, and I’m really happy with the poise and maturity he kept out there. There was a lot of pressure in this game, and for him to be able to handle that was impressive.”
Turlock junior Damon Treadwell was nearly as impressive. After Pitman struck for a run in the first – Colton Evans drew a leadoff walk and came around to score on a fielder’s choice – Treadwell matched Hagen pitch for pitch until the Pride scored twice with two outs in the fourth to make it 3-0. Pitman added two runs in the fifth.
“Give them credit, they played well and we didn’t play as well as we’d like,” Turlock coach Mark de la Motte said. “But we get two more cracks at them, and then three more games after that.”
He did what I expected him to do; he’s shown us throughout this season what he has and what he can do. He had his stuff, kept the guys off balance, and I’m really happy with the poise and maturity he kept out there.
Pitman coach John Acha, on pitcher Brett Hagen
The teams meet again Thursday at Turlock High in a 4 p.m. start.
The Bulldogs will start senior Landon Curtis, who is 3-0 with a 0.37 ERA in league play. The Pride will counter with junior Bradley Enos, who is 1-2 in CCC action. Both will be hard-pressed to match the performance by Hagen.
“Keep the ball down and throw strikes,” Pitman assistant Paul Baker said to nobody in particular, describing the game plan of every pitcher who’s ever warmed up in a bullpen. “A lot of people make a lot of money that way.”