If this was Allan Winans when he "wasn't sharp," things are going to get very scary for the Southwest Yosemite League.
Winans struck out 10 and worked into the seventh inning of Frontier's 3-1 home victory over Liberty on Wednesday in an early-season SWYL game.
Winans (3-1, 0.73 ERA) was able to throw strikes -- he walked just one batter -- and keep the ball down. But Titans coach John Moncier said his senior's greatest skill was keeping his focus.
"I was really pleased with Winans," Moncier said. "He wasn't sharp, but he really battled and made pitches when he had to. He was a little bit off, but that happens. You can't always be perfect."
That was especially true in the top of the first inning, when Liberty (9-3, 0-1 SWYL) loaded the bases with nobody out for the middle of its order. But Winans retired the next three hitters with a pop-up sandwiched by two strikeouts to get out of trouble.
He allowed a solo home run to Christian Sinnott in the sixth inning and then was lifted after allowing a two-out double in the seventh.
"He's tough, and he always pitches well against us," Liberty coach Tony Mills said. "He keeps the ball down in the zone, changes speeds. But when we've got the bases juiced in the first inning with no outs and we get turned away with nothing, that sets the tone. That first inning can mean a lot."
The game stayed scoreless until the bottom of the fourth, when sophomore Harley Lopez supplied all the offense Frontier (8-2-1, 2-0) would need. With the first two runners aboard in the inning, he launched a 2-2 fastball on a line over the wall in right-center field.
"He's a very good hitter for a sophomore," Moncier said. "He's a line-drive hitter, but that one got up a little and kept going right on out of here. And he can do that because he's got so much bat speed."
Frontier, which for the first time has moved to Division I for the Central Section playoffs, is off to a fast start in the SWYL race because of its pitching. Last week in the league opener, Winans shut down Centennial in a 4-1 complete-game victory.
"He was more dominating last week," Moncier said. "That's not going to happen every time. We're trying to teach him on the days that he's not quite so sharp and overpowering that he's got to focus on location and keep composed. Those are the days you truly do have to be a pitcher."
Now Winans has added another win against another league favorite.
"This was a good win," Moncier said. "Liberty is a very strong club, and we expect them to be one of the teams that will fight it out to the end in the league."
Mills said the Patriots, who had just three hits after the first two batters of the game singled, will be fine. He noted that his aces, Sinnott and Kaidan Meadows, are both in the lineup but unable to pitch because of forearm and shoulder injuries, respectively. Mills said he expects both back after spring break.
"We might have a rough couple of weeks coming up, but we'll be good," he said. "We're playing at a high level with our pitching and defense. We just need to swing the bats a little better."