Pilgrims hang on for marathon win

Jesus Luva took the win for Plymouth Tuesday night
By: 
Rusty Nixon
Sports Editor

They say that good things come to those who wait, and Plymouth’s Pilgrims waited around three hours but when it was over they had their first win of the season taking a 6-3 final over Rochester at Bill Nixon Field.
A night before Plymouth and St. Joe played a pitching gem with both teams throwing a total of around 150 pitches. On this night three Rochester pitchers would throw more than 150 pitches by themselves more than 15 times taking Plymouth hitters to a full count. Fortunately the increased game time in the cold temperatures didn’t hurt the defensive effort of either team as there were only two errors in the game.
“Both teams went deep into a lot of counts, but we came out on top,” said Plymouth head coach Ryan Wolfe. “That’s the key on a cold night. We hit a couple of big innings there where we sat in the dugout a little bit and you come back out and everything’s a little stiffer. We didn’t want to go to anyone in the middle of an inning. We wanted to make sure our pitchers got warmed up pretty good. It was a great job and they battled through some things early.”
It was far from a work of art but Plymouth will take it as they did see some moments of brilliance in taking the win. Jesus Luva was workmanlike in his four innings, not over powering but making every pitch he needed to leave the mound with the lead. After a first inning run, the Zebras only real threat was ended in the fourth with a slick pick off at second base to erase Bryce Lahman.
“We’ve been working on some things with our pick off moves and that play was called by Benji (Nixon),” said Wolfe. “Defensively we did a pretty good job of getting guys out and doing things we needed to do.”
Jacob Deacon came on to pitch his first two innings of relief in a varsity game and with similar result - probably not a game he’ll write home about but he made some big pitches in big situations to extricate himself a bases loaded and first and third jams.
Joe Barron got his first varsity experience finishing up the seventh and while he did surrender two runs found a way to right the ship and wiggle free of a bases loaded jam to preserve the win.
It was also a night when Plymouth bats found some life. The Pilgrims have struggled early to find a way to score runs and three big hitters had their first big nights of the new season.
Cam Dennie made a splash first with his first homer of the year as his first hit of the year, a no doubt about it shot to center in the third. Noah Pesak followed that with a laser shot single to left, his first of two hits on the night - the other a double in the sixth. Benji Nixon followed that with a deep drive to the gap in left center for a double.
Nixon would follow that shot with a solo homer of his own in his next at bat part of a two for three night with three runs scored and a stolen base.
Kam Vanlue started it all off with a crucial two run single in the second to give Plymouth their first lead that they would never relinquish.
“Those three guys in the middle had some really good swings on the ball,” said Wolfe. “We’ve been hammering on Noah (Pesak) to hit the ball over the second baseman’s head. When he can stay inside that ball that’s the swing we want. Benji and Cam got going tonight and I know they’ve been fretting the first few games. It’s kind of contagious too.”
The emergence of sophomore Vanlue becomes more crucial with junior catcher Jackson Lee struggling with a knee injury that he will try to play with the rest of the year. It will mean Vanlue being pressed into action when the Pilgrims play back to back nights.
“He’s (Lee) going to play through it and it’s something where we are definitely going to have to watch very closely and we are going to play Kam on some nights,” said Wolfe. “He brings a lot of energy and confidence and he wants to learn.”
Plymouth (1-2) will have a night off before taking on county rival Triton and Bill Nixon Field on Thursday night with a 4:30 p.m. start time.
•PLYMOUTH 6, ROCHESTER 3
At Bill Nixon Field
Rochester 1 0 0 0 0 0 2 3-7-0
Plymouth 0 3 2 0 1 0 x 6-7-2
WP - Jesus Luva (1-1). LP - Carter Hooks (0-1). HR - Cam Dennie (P), Benji Nixon (P). 2B - Aaron Brooks (R), Noah Pesak (P), Nixon (P).

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