Winters' ace outduels Pirates' gun
Pitching duels are rare, especially in high school baseball, but Paul Jinkens of Wheatland High and Alex Thomson of Winters have now squared off in two of them this season.
Thomson pitched a complete-game, three-hit shutout Wednesday to earn the 1-0 Butte View League win for the visiting Warriors (13-3, 5-0).
Jinkens took the loss despite pitching a complete-game two-hitter for the Pirates (7-9, 1-3).
Jinkens walked two and struck out 10 while allowing one unearned run in the seven-inning affair. Thomson walked two and struck out seven.
Thomson also got the better of Jinkens on March 23 in a game at Winters. Both pitchers allowed four hits in that contest, but Thomson came away with 4-1 victory.
Thomson and Jacob Thorne had singles for Winters, while Brenden Benson scored the game's only run in the third inning. Thomson had the RBI.
Jinkens, Chris Sullivan and Lance Lopez each had a single for the Pirates. Jinkens also walked twice.
Jinkens singled with two outs in the first, but Thomson didn't allow another base runner until Jinkens came up again in the fourth and walked on four pitches.
The Pirates only had one real scoring threat - a two-out rally in the sixth featuring back-to-back singles from Sullivan and Lopez that put runners on the corners with Jinkens coming to the plate.
Winters coach Jeff Ingles apparently wanted no part of Jinkens, and gave the order to intentionally walk the Wheatland pitcher and load the bases
Results are results though, and the move worked for Ingles. Wayne Lee hit a grounder to Nathanael Lucero at second, and Lucero tossed to Thorne at second for the easy force out.
“I was a little upset (they walked me) because I was pretty sure I was going to hit (Sullivan) in,” Jinkens said. “I have faith in Wayne (Lee) hitting behind me, he usually hits the ball really well. He put good contact on the ball, it just didn't get through.”
Jinkens was in trouble on the mound as soon as the game started. Benson led off the game with a walk, Thomson singled, and then Danny Campos walked to load the bases with nobody out.
But in what would become a trend, Jinkens found the extra strength when he needed it, and he struck out cleanup man Nick Hedrick looking, then got Thorne to ground to Mitchell Woods at short to start an inning-ending double play.
The Warriors pushed across the only run without the benefit of a hit or a walk.
Benson hit a grounder to first that Joe Waltz couldn't field cleanly, and Benson was safe on the error.
Benson then stole second on the first pitch to Thomson and advanced to third when Jinkens' next pitch was wild.
Thomson hit a sharp grounder to first on the ensuing pitch. Waltz made a nice play to his left and beat Thomson to the bag for the out, but Benson scored easily.
“That early in the game, I don't think of it as costing us the game, because we had opportunities to try and get some runs too,” said Wheatland coach Dave Contreras.
Hedrick then reached first on another error, this one by Sullivan on a chopper in front of the plate. Hedrick was originally called out, and the Wheatland players came off the field, but after the two umpires talked it over, the call was reversed and Hedrick was awarded first base.
He promptly stole second, but Jinkens dug deep again and struck out Thorne on a 3-2 count.
The controversy at the end of the third inning did not hurt the Pirates on the scoreboard, but it had Jinkens seeing red, and Contreras had to calm him down between innings.
“We had to make him focus on what was important,” Contreras said. “He's a competitor. If something goes wrong somewhere, he gets upset about it. We had to tell him that that stuff wasn't important. ... Once he gets focused, then he gets the job done.”
Jinkens was nearly unhittable after that.
Only one batter reached base for Winters in the final four innings. Thorne singled with two outs in the sixth on a fluke infield pop-up that was too close to the first-base line for Jinkens but too far in for Waltz. Jinkens again struck out the next Winters hitter to end the inning.
Jinkens threw just 41 pitches over the final four innings - 34 for strikes.
Appeal-Democrat reporter Nathan D. Collier can be reached at 749-4714. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.