Matt Benedict had his best start in a Bradenton Marauders uniform tonight. Unfortunately, he received zero run support. The sinkerball pitcher was a ground ball machine against the Jupiter Hammerheads. He had a 13:3 groundout to airout ratio on the night, and also had a ground ball that went for a single and another that went for an error.
Benedict was going heavy with his sinker tonight. He threw the pitch 77% of the time, only throwing 18 off-speed pitches. The pitch was sitting 88-91, touching 92. That’s what led to all of the grounders, and what led to an extremely efficient outing for the right-hander. In six innings, Benedict only threw 77 pitches, with 57 going for strikes. He gave up one run on four hits, with no walks and two strikeouts.
“The first time through the lineup they really didn’t get too deep in the counts, and they really didn’t show me that they needed to see anything else,” Benedict said of the sinker heavy approach. “So I was still able to go at them the same way the second time through and it was kind of the same thing.”
Last time Benedict went more with his off-speed stuff, since his opponents had a tendency to attack the fastball early. This time around he watched what Robby Rowland and Nick Kingham had done to this team in the previous two days.
“It was just something that I had just seen the last two days out of these guys, and I thought I could attack them and get ahead and use my fastball,” Benedict said. “Let them be aggressive and try and get early contact.”
“If you executed fastballs, they were just going to put them in play,” he added on what he saw specifically with this team. “And you take your chances with what they’re going to be able to do with them. But I just felt like if I executed pitches where I wanted to, I was going to be better than what they could do.”
Benedict only ran into two jams the entire night. In the first inning he gave up two, two-out singles, but followed it with a groundout to escape the inning without a run. The lone run came in the second inning. Benedict gave up a single to the leadoff man, who moved to second with a stolen base and advanced to third on a ground out. He scored on a single to center field.
That was the last hit Benedict allowed. He retired 13 of his next 14 batters, with the exception being an error by Alen Hanson at shortstop. Unlike a lot of the errors by Hanson this year, this one was actually a tough play. Number three hitter Austin Barnes hit a hard liner right at Hanson. The ball one hopped right before it reached Hanson, and ate him up. He did a good job blocking the ball and keeping it in front of him, but couldn’t recover to pick the ball up and make the throw. An inning later Hanson made a nice play on a hard grounder up the middle, fielding it cleanly, spinning, and making an accurate throw with plenty of time to get the runner.
Benedict mixed it up in the sixth inning, using more off-speed pitches. He threw about half of his off-speed pitches the entire game in the sixth inning. He was going through the lineup a third time on the night, and most of the hitters had seen only fastballs, so he wanted to mix it up. It ended up working for him, as he had another easy inning.
The Marauders couldn’t come back on offense, and the game went 1-0 to the ninth inning. Jupiter added two more runs off Quinton Miller. The second run scored when Alen Hanson threw wild on a relay to the plate to try and catch the first runner. It was a difficult throw to make, since the runner was between him and catcher Jacob Stallings. He threw wide, allowing the first run to score. The throw from Miller behind the plate to Stallings was in time to get the second runner, but he slid under the tag. Bradenton ended up dropping the game 3-0.