Thursday, December 12, 2013
By TOM ROBINSON Special to the Telegram
BINGHAMTON, N.Y. - Jeremy Hazelbaker displayed his power-speed combination to put the Portland Sea Dogs in control early.
WHO: Portland Sea Dogs (Stolmy Pimentel 4-4) at Binghamton Mets (Mark Cohoon 5-7)
WHEN: 1:05 p.m.
WHERE: NYSEG Stadium
Marquez Smith added situational hitting, and Jeremy Kehrt pitched well with men on base.
Together, they set the stage to let Michael Olmsted continue an impressive career rebirth with an overpowering performance in just his second appearance above Class A as the Sea Dogs dumped the Binghamton Mets 5-1 on Saturday night.
Olmsted needed only one pitch to get out of the team's most dangerous situation. He struck out the last four batters he faced and five of the seven overall.
"It's been a really good start," said Olmsted, who has given up two hits and a walk while striking out eight in four scoreless innings. "Hopefully I can keep building on it.
"My confidence is at an all-time high right now."
Josh Fields retired all four batters he faced to complete the combined six-hitter, but Olmsted's effort was the most encouraging sign of the night.
Olmsted, a 6-foot-6, 245-pound right-hander, is an imposing figure on the mound and has shown the results to back it up.
"He has a real good fastball-slider mix," Sea Dogs Manager Kevin Boles said. "He's real aggressive in the zone."
Olmsted, 25, missed an entire season after Tommy John surgery to repair his elbow and spent another year in Japan. After returning home following the death of his mother, Olmsted figured he was headed to independent league ball until the Boston Red Sox discovered him at a tryout last May.
"It's pretty impressive what he's gone through and how he's kept himself going," Boles said. "He's a great story."
After needing almost two years to feel completely healthy again, Olmsted is thrilled by the recent results.
"I've been through a lot in my career and everything I've been through has helped me get to the point I'm at now, more mentally than physically," said Olmsted, who had surgery in the fall of 2008 and was released by the New York Mets' organization from extended spring training in 2009. "My body hasn't changed much, but mentally I'm a lot stronger now and a lot more mature.
"I guess I'm more grown up."
Olmsted recorded 16 saves in 18 chances at Class A Salem. He had a 2.29 earned-run average in 33 games with the Carolina League team.
The first three Sea Dogs to bat Saturday night scored, giving Kehrt a comfort zone in which to work.
Jackie Bradley Jr. walked and Hazelbaker followed with a home run. Marquez Smith and Reynaldo Rodriguez then produced back-to-back doubles before Greg Peavey (4-7) retired a batter.
Hazelbaker later reached on a bunt single, stole second and third, and scored on one of Smith's two sacrifice flies.
"It was a good night to show the variations of my game," said Hazelbaker, the most recent Eastern League player of the week.
Kehrt (5-3) allowed only one run on five hits and four two-out walks in 52/3 innings. He left after back-to-back walks in the sixth, but Olmsted got the groundball he needed on his first pitch.
"He throws strikes and attacks hitters," Boles said. "There's no fear in his approach."