In the zone: Sulphur pitchers strike fear in batters
When the high school baseball season started, Sulphur had one veteran pitcher and struggled early as the Tors tried to fill out the rest of the staff.
The starting trio of senior Kade McBride, junior Vinny Collins and sophomore Landon Arrant have come on strong recently as the Tors have won five of their last six games heading into a key two-game District 3-5A series with Class 5A No. 2 Sam Houston (23-5, 6-3).
The Tors (15-15, 7-3) are ranked 18th and are trying to chase down a home playoff game with two weeks left in the regular season.
Today’s game will start at 6 p.m., while the second game will be at noon Saturday. Both games will be played at McMurry Park in Sulphur.
“We like our matchup,” Sulphur head coach Sam Moore said. “They are going to have to dig deep and throw well.
“Sam Houston is a good ballclub, and we are going to have to be our A-game to beat them.”
McBride, Collins and Arrant have allowed a combined four earned runs in their last five starts.
Since district began, the trio have a combined earned run average of 2.26. Moore credited pitching coach Kale Breaux, a former Tors pitcher and 2015 Louisiana Sports Writers Association Mr. Baseball who struck out more than 400 batters in his career.
“Once they started throwing strikes, they were able to get their second pitch over the plate,” Moore said. “They have been working hard in the bullpen with Coach Breaux.
“The only way to be successful is to throw it over the little white thing they call a home plate. (Breaux) was a pretty good player here at Sulphur. He does a good job because he relates well with the kids because of the age. They know what type of pitcher he was in high school. I think that helps from a mental standpoint.”
McBride (6-1) is the Tors’ veteran and workhorse with 54 innings pitched. He has also pitched in relief, earning a save in the Tors’ 4-2 win over New Iberia on Monday.
“We have a lot of confidence when he is on the mound,” Moore said. “We know what we will get out of him, and he gives us our best chance of winning.”
Collins (2-2) pitched a handful of innings in 2019 and 2020 and is the Tors’ strikeout leader with 42 in 36 innings.
“Vinny has really put up some good numbers throughout the whole year,” Moore said. “He throws from the left side and is able to command the strike zone with his fastball and curveball. He is able to give us a good lefty-lefty matchup in a lot of cases.”
Arrant (3-4) was thrust into a starting role because of an injury that kept fellow sophomore Jake Brown off the mound. He has a 1.52 ERA in district games with a 2-1 record, including a complete game in a 2-0 loss to Barbe.
“The biggest surprise is Landon Arrant pitching like a veteran in his first year on varsity,” Moore said. “I am real proud of him for that. He steps up and takes control.”
Junior left-hander Vinny Collins leads the Sulphur pitching staff with 42 strikeouts in 36 innings. The Tors enter a pivotal two-game series against Sam Houston today and Saturday.