Arlington Citizen-Journal

Colts lefty pitches like an ace in first varsity start

Arlington sophomore lefthander Harrison Hammond threw a complete-game three-hitter in his varsity debut.
Arlington sophomore lefthander Harrison Hammond threw a complete-game three-hitter in his varsity debut. senglish@star-telegram.com

No one was more surprised by Arlington High sophomore pitcher Harrison Hammond’s first start in varsity baseball than Hammond himself.

The left-handed hurler thought he could keep the Colts in the game long enough to turn things over to the bullpen. Instead, he pitched like an ace, earning a complete game victory on an ultra-efficient 62 pitches. That come-from-behind 2-1 win against Bowie on April 4 might be the moment shift the Colts need to mount a serious playoff push.

“I was just thinking, ‘Throw strikes, go a solid five innings and let our relievers come in and shut us down,” Hammond said. “I wasn’t expecting to go the distance at all.”

Fellow sophomore Nate White felt confident in his pitcher — as long as Hammond could maintain his command. “We knew he threw strikes,” White said. “We didn’t know if [Bowie] would hit it. If he left it high, they would’ve hurt him.”

Hammond, who gave up just three hits on the night, agreed with the second baseman’s assessment. “I’ve got to throw strikes and I’ve got to keep it low,” Hammond said. “If I keep it up, they’ll drive the ball into the outfield and I can’t let that happen.”

Hammond didn’t let the ball get away from him. The Volunteers took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the fifth. But Arlington rallied in the sixth. Jaret Granger doubled and then scored on a Bowie error with two outs.

The Colts then eased ahead on a bloop single by White that scored Zach Bailey. White concedes his RBI single to shallow left-center, one of seven Arlington hits on the night, wasn’t a thing of beauty. But it was just the spark the offense has needed in recent games, the second baseman said.

“Actually, he jammed me pretty bad,” White said of the pitch from Bowie’s Nick Johnson. “I managed to get it over [the infield]. We were just tired of losing. We needed something to spark it, get those guys in the back of the dugout ready to play, wanting to play, wanting to win. We want to win as a team. We needed something to get us going.”

Hammond made sure the lead held up. He limited the Bowie bats in the final two frames, including a 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh. “He did quite well,” Colts coach David Nix said. “He threw lots of strikes. Low pitch count. It was a great job.”

After losing twice to Mansfield and twice to Lamar in recent weeks, including a few lopsided scores, Arlington might be finding its stride. But the Vols nearly had a much-needed victory against the Colts’ until the top of the sixth rally happened.

Johnson, who, like Hammond, is a lefty, went the distance for Bowie, surrendering just two unearned runs. “He battled his tail off,” Vols coach Tyler Lucas said of his senior pitcher.

Sports digest

Soccer

The Sam Houston boys soccer team advanced to the regional finals by defeating Lewisville 3-2 at Southlake’s Dragon Stadium on Friday afternoon.

Jason Ramirez scored the first goal of the game, and Jose Ortize contributed two goals, including the game-winning score in overtime.

The Bowie boys soccer team lost to Lewisville Hebron 2-0 in the later game.

Baseball and softball

The Class 6A Arlington ISD teams continue their two-game series format next week, as softball teams have three games remaining in the regular season and baseball teams have just over three weeks of play remaining.

Sam Houston softball starts the week Tuesday on the road against Mansfield, then has the Lady Tigers at home on Friday. The Texans baseball team starts at home and finishes at Mansfield.

The other 6A teams follow the same format; matchups are Martin vs. North Crowley, Bowie vs. Lamar and Arlington vs. Fort Worth Paschal.

Seguin softball is at Burleson on Tuesday and hosts Granbury on Thursday. The baseball team has Cleburne on Tuesday and visits Crowley on Friday.

Stephen English: senglish@star-telegram.com, @sbenglish74

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