SCF Manatees win second straight Suncoast Conference game

McClain effective in relief; Hale drives in three

jdill@bradenton.comMarch 2, 2013 

BRADENTON -- Reggie McClain's shoulder injury is so bad that he still has to rehab it two years later.

McClain picked up the injury heading into his senior year of high school, and he pitched just a few innings at the end of his prep career.

The Johns Creek, Ga., native continued rehabbing the injury as a redshirt with the University of Georgia last year before transferring to the State College of Florida.

But on Friday, McClain showcased just how healthy his shoulder is and how quickly he can get himself prepared when something unforeseen happens.

McClain's six strong long relief innings in place of starter Casey Mulholland, who left due to an illness, coupled with Conner Hale's scorching bat fueled the Manatees to a 5-3 Suncoast Conference victory over visiting South Florida State College.

"Being on the bench, you're still in the game mentally," McClain said. "But being out there is different, but it wasn't too much of a change. Once my name was called, I just got into that mindset that I was about to go into the game and had to pitch."

The win kept SCF (17-7, 2-0) unbeaten in conference play.

After Mulholland ran through the first inning unscathed, he did not feel well. The cold weather was enough to make the decision to pull him easier for head coach Tim Hill II.

So that meant McClain's name was called, and he did not disappoint.

In six innings, he racked up seven strikeouts and allowed two runs, both unearned, to claim the victory.

"I was really trying to just establish the fastball," McClain said. "Really dominating with the fastball, locating and with the change-up -- that was my second pitch that was really throwing them off. So I was just trying to keep them off-balance with those two pitches."

McClain said he felt good warming up ahead of the second inning, and that proved true when he kept overpowering South Florida State College batters with his fastball that hovered around the high 80s.

He retired seven straight and 13 of 14 hitters during one streak in the game.

"He was outstanding," Hill II said. "I thought his location was terrific, and he was on top of his game and gave us a big lift right there when we needed it."

Meanwhile, the offense came in the third and fourth innings for the Manatees.

Orlando Rivera (3-for-5, run) and Julian Santos scored when Hale belted a two-run double to arm SCF with an early 2-0 lead.

Hale's extra-base hit was produced on the third consecutive breaking ball from Trevor Wilson. The South Florida State College right-hander went to the well one time too many after getting two strikes against Hale on his previous off-speed offerings.

Hale later scored on a balk to cap SCF's scoring in the third.

Then in the fourth, Hale delivered another run-scoring double. The LSU-bound sophomore finished 3-for-4 with two runs and three runs batted in.

"He's a guy we rely on," Hill II said. "He's been driving in runs for us. I think he has 25, 26 RBIs now."

Andrew Widell also chipped in a multi-hit game for SCF. The catcher went 2-for-4 with a run and a double.

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