It's uncanny -- a slim pitcher with "here it comes'' stuff, great location and as much control of his emotions as of his fastball. With the No. 42 jersey, to boot. Then there's the funky lefthanded delivery with a rock back followed by an exaggerated leg kick and three-quarters release point.
Actually, Alex Robinson wears the number in honor of Jackie Robinson and, as a Mets fan, Mariano Rivera certainly wasn't an influence, he said. As for the herky-jerky windup:
"I've gotten the Dontrelle [Willis] comparison a lot because as a kid my legs were all over the place," said Robinson, who idolizes the Giants' Tim Lincecum, another pitcher with an odd motion. "My coaches told me don't change it, improve it. It's worked well for me."
And he's worked well for Holy Trinity. The junior threw a two-hitter and tied a career high with 17 strikeouts as the Titans topped Kellenberg, 4-0, Tuesday in a CHSAA game.
"I think my motion makes it tough on batters," Robinson said. "It's hard to pick up the ball until the last second."
It helps, too, when the curveball is looping over the corners and the slow-motion changeup is drifting downward. He struck out the side in five innings, including the seventh.
"He had better stuff in this one than in the no-hitter; the breaking ball was more on," catcher Chris Hardardt said, referring to Robinson's blanking of St. Anthony's in a 2-0 win April 6. "He's just one of the best around."
The Titans (4-4) scored in the bottom of the third when Tim Rice came in from third on a throwing error. He led off with an opposite-field single that was just beyond the second baseman's dive. Hardardt supplied insurance runs later in the inning, lacing a two-run single to center.
"That might've put the game out of reach," Hardardt said. "The way Alex was pitching, three runs was enough."
Robinson, who improved to 3-0, yielded only a double to Niko Costalas and a single to Steve McNoble.
Ricky Van Allen provided the exclamation point for Holy Trinity in the sixth, crushing a solo homer to center -- a line drive that carried about 380 feet and interrupted lacrosse practice.
"It was a fastball on the inner half," Van Allen said. "I knew it was gone because I swung and didn't feel anything."
Kellenberg starter Tim Deegan pitched well -- six hits, two earned runs and six strikeouts -- but had the tough luck.
"We ran into a good pitcher on a good day," said Firebirds coach Chris Alfalla, whose 2-5 team was coming off a 7-1 win Saturday. "[Robinson] has that unorthodox delivery that throws people off and we couldn't get the bats going."
Titans coach Bob Malandro hopes this win can get his team going. The defending champs lost, 6-0, to St. John the Baptist Thursday.
"We graduated six starters and it's a young team that needs to mesh and learn how to win," Malandro said. "But we started 5-4 last year and then went 11-2."