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ORLEANS — When Parker Scott walked into the bullpen after the longest outing by any Chatham pitcher this season, he couldn’t believe his pitch count.
"How many' What',” he said after he heard the number.
Scott needed just 69 pitches in seven scoreless innings to post one of the Anglers’ most dominant pitching outing of the season on Monday night. He set up the A’s stretched pitching staff perfectly to deal Orleans its sixth straight loss, 6-1, at Eldredge Park. When Scott did allow hits, he used a pickoff move and induced two double plays to keep runs off the board. He faced only 22 batters, one more than the minimum.
“I was expecting to go five,” Scott said. “Cookie said I was looking good and going back out there for the sixth. Then he said it again for the next inning. I was shocked when they told me I was at 69 pitches.”
Through three appearances and now one start, Scott’s statline is staggering. The Oklahoma State left-hander has thrown 13.1 innings, allowing just one walk and 13 hits. And every inning he’s pitched this summer, he’s walked off the mound with a zero in the run column.
Scott has proved that he can go further into games than four or five innings — which Holliday said he struggled with at Oklahoma State. A month into his freshman season with the Cowboys, Scott said his arm went numb. He had surgery on a nerve on his arm, but in his first start back, he tore his UCL. Scott needed Tommy John, which meant he’d have to sit his entire 2018 season and take a medical redshirt.
Returning in 2019, Scott served as a reliever early in the season before earning a spot back in the Cowboys’ rotation at the end of the year. Scott hadn’t proven he could keep his pitch count down and get through the lineup a second time unscathed. On Monday, he did both.
“He’s here for a reason,” manager Tom Holliday said. “He’s here to build his endurance. People who’ve seen him during the season, he kinda fatigued after four innings. It’s probably the longest in 2 to 3 years.”
Once Chatham took advantage of an extra out in the first off an Orleans defensive miscue, Scott took the mound for his first Anglers’ start with the three-run lead. Cooper Davis (Vanderbilt) notched a single for his first Cape League hit. Later with the bases loaded, Ben Ramirez (USC) grounded out and brought the opening run home.
Kaden Polcovich (Northwest Florida State) — who hadn’t started since game two of Friday’s doubleheader against Falmouth when he injured his left calf — roped a two-run double into the right-center field gap.
Pitching with the lead, Scott faced his only jam of the evening in the first inning. The Firebirds’ first two hitters both knocked singles.
“If you have the lead you can just pitch,” Scott said. “You don’t worry about hanging one ball and giving up the lead or losing.”
Scott stayed in front of hitters in counts the entire night — he entered with a 76 percent first-pitch strike rate, and pitched ahead to 17 of the 22 batters he faced. After a fly out to center brought the lead runner to third base with one out in the first, Scott threw a fastball low in the zone, which Tevin Esquerra rolled into a double play. He’d escaped the first, but Scott said he wasn’t feeling himself.
“It helped me settle in,” Scott said. “In the first three innings, I didn’t feel normal. Later in the game I felt like the ball was jumping out more off my arm.”
Esquerra’s first-bat was the best opportunity Orleans had of scoring against the Cowboys’ lefty. The Firebirds led off the second inning with a single, but Scott spun his looping curveball in for strike three to the next hitter, and catcher Keaton Rice (Bradley) threw out the runner attempting to steal second base.
Scott didn’t have to overpower the Firebirds’ hitters. His combination of well-placed fastballs that danced around 90 mph, an effective changeup and slow, looping curveball kept the FIrebirds off balance all evening.
Through the middle innings, while the Anglers’ bats were quiet, Scott made sure the Firebirds never mounted a rally. He retired the next eight hitters, including four-straight swinging strikeouts that spanned parts of the fifth and sixth innings.
“He threw about every pitch for a strike, wherever he wanted,” Rice said. “It was pretty fun back there.”
Once again, when Scott allowed a two-out single in the sixth, he managed the final out without delivering a pitch to the next hitter. As Firebirds’ catcher David Avitia waited for the first pitch, Scott rotated and tossed a dart to first base, picking off Shay Whitcomb. While reliever RJ Dabovich (Arizona State) was warming in the bullpen, Scott came out for the seventh inning and struck out the side.
The Firebirds only scored once on Monday, on a two-out, solo home run off Dabovich. The Anglers had added three more runs since the first frame, one in the eighth and two more in the ninth on RBI walks, but they weren’t necessary.
With Scott and then Dabovich rolling, Chatham’s lead was more than enough to lead the Anglers to their eighth victory over an East Division opponent.
“When you throw everything for a strike like he did, you take control of the ball game,” Holliday said. “He’s going to erase questions about his endurance.”