Jason Applegate displayed his growth as a pitcher when top-seeded Hun School baseball team battled No. 4 Lawrenceville last Wednesday in the opening round of the state Prep A tournament.
Battling through some control issues, the Hun sophomore righty held the Big Red scoreless in four innings of work, giving up no hits, as the Raiders pulled away to an 11-1 triumph.
In assessing his mound effort, Applegate was proud of the way he kept his cool as he worked out of a couple of jams.
“My previous couple of starts, I was rushing to the plate and I was trying to throw the ball harder than I should,” said Applegate.
“Today I took a different approach. I slowed down and I stayed back and tried hitting more spots. I got my curve ball back; that was working. The changeup still needs work but the curve ball is there.” Applegate believes he has matured a lot with one season of high school ball under his belt.
“I know the situations and I know how to get out of them,” said Applegate, who doubled in a run to help his cause.
“I am starting to learn how to pitch and I am trusting myself more. I was 14 years old as a freshman last year, playing on the varsity. I am 15 now. It is still young but I have matured a lot through this organization.”
Hun finds itself in a do-or-die situation in the double elimination Prep A tourney as it beat second-seeded Blair Academy 5-3 on Saturday but then fell to the Buccaneers 7-5 last Sunday in the championship round. The teams were slated to play on Tuesday in a winner-take-all finale.
“Our goal is to win the states,” said Applegate. “After losing in the county tournament, we are just focused on states now. It is going to be tough because there are some really good teams in the state prep.
Hun head coach Bill McQuade liked the mental toughness Applegate displayed on the mound in the win over Lawrenceville.
“He still threw too many pitches but he battled when he had to battle and it is one of his better games in terms of composure,” said McQuade.
“That was all about composure. We have been talking to him from last year to this year, he has to slow the engine down and become the pitcher, the thinker, before he throws the pitch. He’s got the God-given ability, now he’s got to harness the energy behind it and turn into a thinking pitcher because the arm is there.”
Last Sunday, Hun and Blair both showed composure as they played through a steady drizzle at Lawrenceville in the first game of the Prep A championship round.
“Considering the weather, considering the field condition, both teams gave it everything they had,” said McQuade, whose team moved to 15-6 with the loss.
“Remarkably it was a pretty clean ballgame, considering the weather. Once the ball hit the ground, it was soaking wet so actually it wasn’t until the last inning or two when wild pitches started happening but you couldn’t run, the kids had no left-to right mobility because of the mud on their shoes.”
McQuade tipped his hat to the Buccaneers for coming through under such conditions as they battled back from deficits of 1-0 and 3-2 to earn the win and force the final game.
“They came up with a great hit when they had to, they really did,” said McQuade, referring to a decisive bases-clearing double by Blair’s Ed Lehr in the top of the sixth which gave the Buccaneers a 7-3 lead. “In terms of today, they did their job and they deserved it.”
Hun will be looking to do the job when the rivals meet in the rubber match for the title. “It is one game, winner take all, you can’t ask for anything better than that,” said McQuade. “We have got Applegate and then pitching by committee. We have got to hit them.”
Applegate, for his part, believes Hun can emerge as the better team. “We are looking pretty good so far,” asserted Applegate. “I think we are on the slope upward.”