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Watts simply sensational

Heading into Tuesday night’s game versus East Lincoln, not many outside of the Rebels’ baseball community knew who Jake Watts was.
After six innings of shutout baseball and five strikeouts in front of nearly 300 people, they do now.
Watts, only a freshman, entered the game in the bottom of the sixth inning with the bases loaded and no outs. Three pitches later, he escaped having only allowed one run on a squeeze bunt.
“Jake has no fear. He doesn’t know he’s a freshman. He doesn’t know he’s supposed to be nervous out there. He doesn’t know he’s supposed to give up runs. He just comes in and does what he’s used to doing. He just pitches and gets out of it, so I’m real proud of him and proud of all the kids,” Rebels’ head coach Allan Chapman said.
The southpaw credited his teammates for most of his success.
“All my teammates cheered me up the whole time. During the game whenever I was pitching and in the dugout. I pulled myself together too,” he said.
Watts, in the midst of the storm, also silently asked the Lord to help him in pressure situations.
“Well to tell you the truth, I prayed and then I just threw the ball and Chris calmed me down a little bit,” he said.
Chapman felt Watts, who mainly throws a fastball and change-up, did a great job of pitching his way out of jams. According to the coach, that’s nothing unusual. Against Fred T. Foard with the score 2-2 in the top of the 10th, Watts entered the game with the bases loaded and no outs. He allowed no runs
“We got out of situations. We battled and got out of situations; they put pressure on us all day. I felt like we handled the pressure on the mound and defensively,” he said.
While Watts (3-0) turned in a stellar pitching performance, he also was the beneficiary of solid defense behind him. Senior Dustin Hester, who had the game-winning hit, also had the game-changing defensive play.
In the bottom of the fifth with the Rebels clinging to a 6-5 lead, the Mustangs had the bases loaded with Greyson Schram up to bat. Schram, the Mustangs’ top hitter, looped one into shallow right field that looked to be trouble. Hester chased after it.
“It looked real short. When I noticed it was over my head; I didn’t really think, I just took off after it. I didn’t have time to think. I just took off and laid out for it,” he said of his snow cone catch.
The play, in all likelihood, saved two runs and ended the inning.
Schram admitted after the game his team had opportunities, but just couldn’t come through with the clutch hit.
“We played good defense and we had the bases loaded quite a bit. We just couldn’t get any runners in and that killed us. We only had six hits the whole game,” he said.
As for the Rebels, the game was sweet redemption having lost to the Mustangs twice on the season (the second one being a 9-8 loss).
“It felt great to finally beat them. I know they’re not that much better. They’re never two games better than us, so it felt great to come out and have a good ballgame and win it,” Hester said.
It was also a night Watts displayed talent, maturity and poise beyond his years.

by John Mark Brooks

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