The wind was whipping at Sayre's baseball field late Thursday afternoon, with 25-mph gusts making fly balls an adventure for fielders.
But the blustery conditions didn't bother Spartans pitcher Ray Brewer. The 6-foot-7, 245-pound junior right-hander was steady as a rock on the mound.
Brewer overpowered Bath County in leading Sayre to a 10-0 victory. He allowed one hit — Tyler Wright's wind-aided triple — and two walks, and he had 11 strikeouts in the five-inning game, ended by mercy rule.
"My curveball was off in the beginning. Same with my change-up," Brewer said. "But then I found them and I could locate them from the second inning on."
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During one stretch, Brewer fanned nine of 11 batters.
His performance was a carbon copy of his last start when he threw a one-hit, 11-strikeout gem as the Spartans beat Nicholas County 8-0 in the Bluegrass Conference Tournament finals on Saturday.
Sayre Coach Scott Sutton marvels at how good Brewer has pitched this spring after he was unable to throw last year because of shoulder problems.
"He's so balanced and so smooth out there," Sutton said. "He's all over the zone constantly. He hasn't been throwing his curveball for strikes a lot, but when he starts doing that, he'll be filthy."
Brewer is 6-1 this season with 78 strikeouts and only seven walks in 38 innings. His earned run average is 1.10.
"The part of my game I've worked on most is mentally," he said. "When I've faced a tough situation, I've been able to fire through it. My focus is better."
College scouts have come calling, impressed by Brewer's talent and build — and his huge upside. His 88-mph fastball figures to pick up plenty of speed.
Brewer said he has Louisville high on his list. Stanford, South Florida and Virginia are up there, too. Maryland and Wake Forest have also caught his interest.
Brewer can swing the bat, too, which has some colleges recruiting him as a pitcher and everyday player. He's hitting .511 with three homers, 24 runs and 18 RBI. Last year, when he was used as a designated hitter, he hit .382 with four homers and 30 RBI.
Brewer had a single and a sacrifice fly against Bath County, but he got lots of support from his teammates.
Henry Wolf, a sophomore, had a two-run single. Freshman John Van Balen had an RBI single and scored twice. Michael Flora, an eighth-grader, had a hit and two runs. Eighth-grader Mason Stockham contributed a run-scoring single. Foster Roberts, a junior, drove in two runs with a squeeze bunt and bases-loaded walk.
In his fourth year of varsity ball, Brewer is a grizzled veteran among the youthful Spartans, whose lineup sometimes includes four eighth-graders.
Brewer has watched them grow up this spring.
"We could use (youth) as an excuse early in the season," he said. "But they've turned into varsity players for us instead of middle-schoolers. They've really stepped up."
Sutton, who got his 200th career victory last weekend, has seen it, too.
"Huge improvement," he said. "The biggest thing is their competitive nature. Early on there were times when they were like, 'Am I allowed to do this?', or "We can't beat this team.' "
But after Sayre was routed by Henry Clay a couple weeks ago, Sutton had a long talk with his young guys and "challenged them to compete. Since then, we've done terrific."
Bath County 000 00— 0 1 4
Sayre 200 62—10 7 1
Broderick Moore, Mike Wells (5) and South Whitt. Ray Brewer and Chase Deppen. W—Brewer. L—Moore. 3B—Tyler Wright (BC).
Records—Bath Co. 7-11; Sayre 12-10