May 27, 2010 8:47:00 AM
Adam Minichino - firstname.lastname@example.org
PEARL -- Pitchers don''t always take the adage "you can''t break a plane of glass" as a source of pride.
Kameron Mills didn''t mind Wednesday that the radar gun at Trustmark Park might have had difficulty measuring the speed of some of pitches.
The senior right-hander wasn''t concerned with popping his catcher''s mitt because he was doing something more important: Getting Hamilton High School hitters out with ease.
Mills scattered five hits in six innings to help lead the Richton High to a 5-0 victory against Hamilton in game two of the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 2A State title series.
The victory helped the Rebels (31-3) win the series 2-0 and secure their third championship in the past four years. Richton beat Hamilton in three games in 2008 for the Class 2A title.
"He did a good job," Hamilton coach Lewis Earnest said. "He kept the ball down, he changed speeds, and he changed locations. It is hard to adjust to somebody who is throwing that slow. We should be able to, but we never did."
Mills kept the Lions off balance with a sidearm delivery that maximized the movement of his pitches. He was fortunate to get a reading of more than 70 mph from the radar gun on many of his pitches. That didn''t matter, though, because Hamilton had multiple hits in only one inning -- the third -- and no extra-base hits.
"It was slow," said Hamilton catcher Parker Rye, who was 0-for-3. "We''re not very good at hitting slow pitching. We were hitting the ball hard but right at folks. We just couldn''t find the holes."
Hamilton was 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position. The final three at-bats came with two outs.
Richton coach Brandon Davis said he didn''t consider Mills as an option as a starting pitcher at the beginning of the season. That outlook changed as several pitchers proved ineffective and senior shortstop JaCoby Jones overcame arm troubles.
Mills answered the call, working his way from shorter outings of one to three innings to the point where he had the confidence of his coaches with a chance to clinch a state title.
"I told him he had the ball to get us to JaCoby," said Davis, who brought in Jones in the seventh inning. "I told him if you can give us four that''s great. Anything else is a bonus. I wanted him to get the complete-game shutout but he was done."
Davis credited Mills for staying focused after he was taken out of the batting lineup. He said he continued to play solid defense at third base and to deliver on the mound when others players would have packed it in.
Mills praised the work of assistant coach Tim Davis, who pitched in the Philadelphia Phillies organization. He said Davis encouraged him to throw sidearm the summer after his sophomore season. He said going from throwing over the top to sidearm reduced the stress on his arm and allowed him to get more movement on his pitches.
"That is what I am supposed to do, to come in and throw the ball and get them to roll over it and hit it to (shortstop) JaCoby (Jones) or (third baseman) Tilur (Smith)," Mills said. "It is a done deal if one of them gets the ball."
Mills didn''t take any of the praise for his effort. He credited his teammates for supporting him and giving him the confidence to know he could deliver on the state''s biggest stage.
Brandon Davis shifted the praise back to Mills.
"We teach him that his stuff is good enough and just throw it in there," Davis said "We want him to let it run. He has a God-given natural ability and he doesn''t try to do too much. Some kids on this stage would have looked up there and saw 69 or 70 mph (from the radar gun and then posted on the scoreboard) and said, ''I need to throw 75'' and then got lit. But he stuck with what he did."
"Tim said the only shot you have of pitching, brother, is if you come down here (sidearm). He accepted it. Some kids won''t do that, but we have good kids."
The biggest praise Mills received came from the Hamilton players, who were left shaking their heads wondering how they weren''t able to do better at the plate.
"It is very frustrating because you know you''re better and you don''t play up to your potential," Rye said. "You know you could beat them, but I know we''re way better than the way we played."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.