Clinton Huskies Start Season by Splitting Doubleheader
Ryan Inglis and the Clinton Huskies East Shore Travel League 16-U AAU baseball team opened their season with a doubleheader against CT Rage on July 7. The Husies are 1-1 after splitting the set. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/Harbor News | Buy This Photo)
Brady Fritz is part of a potent top of the lineup for the Huskies that scored nine of the Huskies 11 runs in their win over CT Rage on July 7. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/Harbor News | Buy This Photo)
The Clinton Huskies East Shore Travel League AAU 16-U baseball squad had its first contest of the season last week. The Huskies played a doubleheader versus the CT Rage at the Indian River Complex on July 7. Clinton won the first game in a 11-5 blowout, but then took a 5-3 loss in the nightcap to move to 1-1 on the campaign. Head Coach Willie Fritz’s team is a young bunch focused on getting reps on the field first and foremost.
Coach Fritz knew these first few games would be an adjustment with most of his players waiting nearly a year for another chance to play competitive baseball. Normally, the Huskies would have been together since mid-June.
“We wanted to get these guys playing back together again. A lot of them haven’t played at all. Normally we would start in the middle of June, and we wouldn’t really need any practice because the guys would be coming straight off the high school season,” said Fritz. “Now, they haven’t played since the fall at best. Some of this is simple stuff like reconditioning, but you have to remember these are 15 and 16 year olds, and we still have to have them comfortable with the cut off play or what base to cover in a double play.”
In the first game, the Huskies tallied 11 runs, thanks in large part to keeping a discerning eye at the plate. Most of the Huskies’ runs came from the top part of the lineup, and the biggest blow of the evening came when Ethan Reemsnyder ripped a double that plated a pair. Coach Fritz knows his team has a long way to go, but he was encouraged to see what some of the potent bats could do.
“We swung the bat decently. Our first four batters, Garret Garbinski, Ryan Inglis, Brady Fritz, and Ethan Reemsnyder, hit the ball very well,” said Fritz. “They accounted for nine of our 11 runs scored, and they had six hits through that group. Ethan had the big two-run double for us to get a couple of guys in the first game.”
It’s in the latter part of the order that the Huskies need to develop. Coach Fritz is confident that the team will improve if his players stick with it.
“Our first four guys are swinging the bat well and are up there hacking,” Fritz said. “The younger guys behind them have to work their way in. Once we get past our first four guys, we tend to drop off a little bit. They know that they have to start stepping up and giving us a little more there. We’re working on it.”
The rustiness of the pitchers for each team played its part in both games. Usually these pitchers would be stretched out from competing through a high school season. With spring sports canceled do to COVID-19, many players are closer to March form as opposed to July.
“Nobody’s been playing for a long time, so we’re really just hoping to get them back into the groove,” said Fritz. “We need our pitchers to do a better job throwing strikes because our defense has been great. When the pitchers aren’t getting the ball in play, there’s no chance for the defense to make a play and get us an out.”
Garret Garbinski started the first game and pitched three innings, allowed two hits and three runs. He also struck out four and allowed five walks. Relieving Garbinski was Dave Sacco who pitched two innings, struck out six, and allowed two runs. As per East Shore Travel League rules the game ended after two hours with just six innings played.
“What I saw in that first game was that neither team was great on the mound. Garret threw okay for us and Dave came in and cleaned it up,” Fritz said. “They both walked a few, and you know whenever you walk a guy, he’s going to score.”
In game two, Clinton was unable to string together enough runs to out-pace the Rage and lost 5-3. The Huskies’ batting order remained identical, but they offered a different look on the mound. Lucas Kamoen got the start for the Huskies, and gave up three runs on four hits and four walks. Coach Fritz knows that its just a matter of time before his hurlers begin to put it together.
“It’s the first time that some of these guys are getting on the mound in a long time. Every time these guys get another chance on the mound, they’ll get a little bit better,” said Coach Fritz. “The biggest thing is that I’m holding them to 50 or 60 pitches. We have to get their arms back in shape. It’s not like everyone was outside throwing the whole time.”
As for now, the East Shore Travel League has a tentative plan to begin playoffs in August. Coach Fritz isn’t concerned with his squad getting to the playoffs, especially with a possible fall season looming. The Huskies will play their scheduled 18 games and be satisfied.
“Right now, they are talking playoffs in the middle to end of August. My commitment to the league is Aug. 12, and then we are done,” said Fritz. “If something happens with no fall sports in high school, then maybe I’d consider it, but I’m not going to put pressure on these guys to play a baseball game when they have all that going on. The bottom line is I have a great group of kids and parents. We’ve had a lot of fun.”
Regardless of the results, getting back out on the diamond meant the world to Coach Fritz and his players. Fritz just wants to give his players to get back to what they love to do, play baseball.
“It’s fantastic to get on the field. We had a scrimmage last Sunday, and even then, the kids were really fired up,” said Coach Fritz. “Everybody is up on the fence talking and cheering on their teammates. They’ve played together for a long time, and they are out there to root for each other.”