CARY, N.C. – Cody Bellinger’s name is certainly already known around the circuit, but Thursday’s performance at the National High School Invitational may have some thinking more about his arm than his bat.
The Oregon commit threw a four-hit complete-game shutout and racked up 10 strikeouts for his Hamilton (Chandler, Ariz.) Huskies in their 3-0 defeat over the Jenks (Okla.) Trojans. Bellinger hasn’t had much starting experience so far this season but Hamilton coach Mike Woods certainly knows what his southpaw is capable of.
“We don’t expect a 10-strikeout shutout [every time] but we expect him to do a very good job, which he did today,” Woods said. “He’s taken the ball three times possibly as a starter this year and super job. Like I said, we don’t expect shutouts but we expect him to pitch as well as he did.”
The only Jenks batter who figured out Bellinger was Derek Brumble, who went 3-for-3 with a trio of singles.
“He was really strong,” Trojans coach Dennis Keeley said. “He dominated us throughout the lineup. He’s obviously a talented arm and he threw some great pitches. We’ve got to try to figure out a way to try to scratch a few runs across the plate when you get a guy like that.”
Despite Bellinger’s performance on the hill and a slow day at the plate, his coach is still adamant that the most exciting place to watch the young player is in the batter’s box.
“Cody’s a hitter,” Woods said. “He can really hit. He pitches on the side. He’s a complete ballplayer. He’s a competitor and the team needed him today and he stepped up.”
With a plan consisting mainly of throwing strikes and trying to stay ahead, the lefty was happy to have accomplished what he did.
“I feel good,” Bellinger said. “I put the team on my back like [Woods] said. They needed me to come out and throw a good game to get the W and I did.”
Bellinger’s job on the mound was certainly just what Hamilton needed. Though they notched eight hits in the matchup, Woods believes that his team is not performing near their potential.
“We’re not swinging it all that well right now,” the Huskies coach said. “We’re kind of scuffling to be honest with you. But we’re getting enough and we’re getting guys on. . .but our batting with runners in scoring position must be very low.
“At some point we’re going to break out, although we’ve to tip our hat to the young man for Jenks pitched a good game, really changed speeds well; kept us out front. But getting three runs; if you look around this tournament, that will win you some ball games.”
Jenks starter Bryce Ward completed six frames for the Trojans, allowing three runs (one earned) on eight hits with one walk and three strikeouts. His performance was the highlight of the game for Jenks, which will look for its first win of the tournament on Friday.
“I thought our guy on the mound, Bryce Ward, competed extremely well; made some really good pitches,” Keeley said. “It was good to see some of the guys that we’re counting on putting some good swings on some things. We just couldn’t get the hit at the right time. So we’ll go back to the drawing board and try to piece it back together.”