BRATTLEBORO -- One day after Johnny Manziel brought excitement to Cleveland, Jimmy Mills gave Brattleboro fans reason to believe.
"Jimmy Baseball" fanned five, walked just one and fired a three-hit shutout as the Colonels clobbered the MAU baseball team, 7-0, on a rainy Friday evening at Tenney Field.
"I’m very happy with his performance. You can’t ask for much more on a tough day to pitch," said BUHS skipper Chris Groeger.
And Mills had plenty of help behind him.
Kevin Tao (3B) and Kassidi Ramirez (SS) each made a highlight play early on. And left fielder Michael Rooney may have made the defensive play of the year in the fourth - sprinting some 40 feet to his right and laying out to somehow come up with a foul ball that was ruled out of play.
"We played well, considering the conditions," noted Groeger. "I thought we did put it all together: good pitching, good defense and timely hitting."
The Colonels piled up nine hits on the night, including a pair of doubles by Chris McAuliffe and a couple of singles from Tao. Hunter Smith, Kassidi Ramirez, Ryan McAuliffe, Rob Heileman and Mills all hit safely.
Brattleboro stole a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first. After Ramirez drew a one-out walk and Chris McAuliffe doubled to deep left, Tao drove a pitch by Ellis Baker up the middle -- an outfield error allowed a second run to score.
And that was all that "Jimmy Baseball" would need.
None of MAU’s three hits left the infield. Shea Mooney dribbled one to the left side in the first that Ramirez had no play on, Matt Upright did the same in the fourth, and Baker’s cue shot took a crazy hop off the mound in the seventh.
The frustrated Patriot fans wanted their team to show some life and wanted the umps to give them a break.
"If you can’t see the play, ump, get off the field," screamed one MAU backer during the bottom of the third.
Instant replay would have been helpful. Chris McAuliffe’s grounder to short was eaten up but the throw by Mooney was off the mark, forcing first baseman Devin Babson to leave the bag and attempt a tag. The BUHS slugger was first called out, but after a meeting of the umpires it was overturned.
The hosts increased their lead to 3-0 on Heileman’s RBI single in that frame.
And then came a four-run fourth. Chris McAuliffe drove in two with a double to left, while Ryan McAuliffe and Smith each added a base knock.
Mills would face just 10 batters the rest of the way. He used a nasty hook to sit Austin Metcalfe down in the fifth, watched Heileman make a fine play at second base in the sixth, and got two catches by Rooney (LF) in the seventh.
The 5-5 Colonels will play at Fair Haven on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m.
Shane Covey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 802-254-2311, ext. 163.