It was raw and breezy, temps in the 40s, rain on the way. Not exactly ideal conditions for Wheatley's Matt Hogg to make his first varsity start, right?
"I kind of like pitching in this," the junior righthander said. "It hurts the batter more to hit the ball than it does for me to throw it."
Latest HS sports stories
Not that host Carle Place hit the ball very hard. Hogg, who had four innings of relief this season on his varsity resume, didn't allow a hit until there were two outs in the fourth, didn't allow a run until he balked with a runner on third in the sixth, and pitched a tidy complete game in leading Wheatley to a 4-1 victory over Carle Place Tuesday in a Nassau BC game.
"I thought he was ready. We watched him pitch against good teams in preseason. He had a lot of success on JV last year," Wheatley coach Paul Paino said. "He's a gamer, a tough kid. He never gets frazzled."
Hogg pitched like a varsity veteran on a day when no one could possibly have a hot hand. He struck out five, allowed only four hits, one a wind-blown infield double that led to the Frogs' only run.
"Even though it was cold, I was able to throw strikes," Hogg said. "I had a good fastball and a good curve. And I could put on a sweatshirt between innings and stay warm."
In improving to 8-2, Wheatley scored two runs in the third inning, which featured an RBI double by Andrew Hastings and a run-scoring single by Tommy Gillette. The Wildcats left the bases loaded that inning and also left three on in the fifth, when they scored again on an RBI single by Xavier Fallarino. Catcher Billy McLean (2-for-4) drove in the final run with a single to left in the sixth.
Hogg credited McLean with expert play-calling that made his starting debut a breeze.
"He took care of me," Hogg said. "Even that last pitch . Billy called a curve. I wanted to throw a fastball and tried to shake him off. He wouldn't let me. So I got him with the curve."
Paino said he had an inkling Hogg would be able to give him innings against Carle Place (5-6), even on a wind-chill kind of day. "He throws strikes. I really thought he might go all the way," the coach said. "You can relax when he's pitching."
In fact, conditions were ideal, after all.