Hunter plans to build on area playoff performance
May 16, 2012 at 12:16 a.m.
YOAKUM - If senior pitcher Adam Hunter ever deserved a bag of ice over his right pitching arm, it was after his performance in the Class 3A area playoffs last weekend.
Hunter had 163 pitches, leaving his arm smarting after two days of heavy work.
"It felt like it was going to fall off," Hunter said.
After pitching a complete-game no-hitter against Liberty Hill in Game 1 on Friday, Hunter returned Saturday to close out the series with three more innings in Game 3.
Yoakum won Games 1 and 3 by the identical score of 5-1, his only blemish in Game 1 were on walks and errors.
Yoakum will likely turn to their ace again for Friday's regional quarterfinal game against Fredericksburg in New Braunfels.
His teammates were equally impressed by his area playoff performance.
"He's one of the best pitchers in the state right now," said senior infielder and pitcher Jeff Harrison. "We're just trying whoever we need to on the mound to do what they got to do."
Hunter has served as the No. 1 pitcher in the Bulldogs rotation and has a struck out 85 batters in 66 1/3 innings of work while compiling a 1.18 ERA.
Hunter has a 8-3 record on the season while the Bulldogs are 22-7.
After winning the opening game of the area playoff series against Liberty Hill, Yoakum dropped Game 2 2-0 and suddenly its season was in jeopardy of ending.
Despite throwing 115 pitches in Game 1, Hunter went to Bulldogs head coach Bobby Nicholson during the second inning of Game 3 and told the coach that if the team needed him to pitch, he'd be ready.
"That tells me how important this team is to him, it's not just about him," Nicholson said. "He could have done his job and beat them in Game 1 and thought, 'My job's done.'''
Hunter stuck out nine batters during his Game 1 start and allowed just one earned run on three hits in Game 3.
"Adam Hunter is something else," said senior centerfielder Kyle Mikulik. "I've never been around a guy like that on the mound."
Added Hunter: "When I'm not hitting or walking anybody, that's what happens."
Hunter will continue his baseball career next season at Weatherford College.
During the offseason, Hunter worked on his mechanics to improve his velocity.
At the end of last season, Hunter said he was up to throwing in the high 70s and low 80s. But his battery mate said he's not just a one trick pony on the mound.
"He's got two great pitches with his slider and his changeup," said senior pitcher Brice Lauer. "If you fall behind with this guy, you're pretty much done because he can hit you with different pitches."
Lauer added that although the fastball is his standout pitch, his slider is the best part of his arsenal.
Like last year, the Bulldogs are back in the regional quarterfinals at Unicorns Stadium.
However, they hope for a different result after losing Games 2 and 3 to Somerset 14-3 and 7-2.
"A lot of people thought, myself included, that we should have come out of that series," Lauer said.
Yoakum takes on a Fredericksburg team that has it's own talented ace in Ryan Flores.
Fredericksburg has won both its playoff games against Burnet and Somerset by a combined score of 14-0.
Nicholson said Fredericksburg wanted a one-game playoff because of Flores and said it was similar to the Liberty Hill team Yoakum played in the area playoffs.
Nicholson added that in order to advance, the Bulldogs have to be patient and get Flores into high-pitch counts.
"We're just going to have to bring the bats," Lauer said. "Get hits, get on base and score more runs than they do."
The Bulldogs feature a lineup with seven players who hit .300 or better.
Statistically, left fielder Hogan Lauer leads the team with a .373 average. The sophomore has 15 RBIs.
Brice Lauer leads the team with 35 RBIs and is hitting .347 on the season.
Although a no-hitter may be a tough act to follow, Hunter doesn't plan to change his next approach during his next start, which will likely come on Friday.
"Do the same thing," Hunter said. "Take the same mindset to my next game, throw hard and throw strikes."