McKeon picks up Honkers
It was hot and humid and Josh McKeon didn't have his best stuff against a surging Brainerd Lunkers team on Tuesday. But it didn't matter.
The Rochester native threw eight scoreless inning to lead the Rochester Honkers past the Lunkers 9-0 in Northwoods League baseball in the second of a three-game series at Mayo Field. Result-wise, it was McKeon's best outing of the season.
"On the stats, it was my best outing of the year," McKeon said. "But my stuff wasn't there. My velocity was a little down and my breaking pitches were off."
McKeon had something else going for him, however. He had the right attitude and great location.
"A lot of it was attitude," the right-hander said. "I didn't really have my best stuff, but if you keep the ball low, good things are going to happen."
McKeon's effort was greatly appreciated by the rest of the Honkers. On Monday the Lunkers had collected 18 hits in beating the Honkers 9-5.
"For him to come up and do that, it was big for us," Honkers outfielder Chris Elder said.
The performance was big because the Honkers pitching staff is currently very thin. Grant Muncreif and Gabe Feldman were released on Tuesday because of injuries. Arik Sikula was recently shut down for the year and today will be Ian Kadish's last day with the Honkers. Both Sikula and Kadish play at Marshall.
"He's been here all year for us," Honkers manager Ryan Ruiz said of McKeon. "I can't say enough about him, he battled. He gave us a great effort when it was hot and humid."
McKeon might have been asked to pitch one extra inning because of the depleted bullpen. He had thrown 94 pitches in seven innings and then went out and threw the eighth, finishing with 111 total pitches.
"The main focus is you want to go out and get as many innings as you can," McKeon said. "Especially when we're thin in the pen."
McKeon allowed just one runner to reach third base. He gave up five hits and never more than one in an inning while walking four and striking out five.
"It felt great," McKeon said of the win, which improved him to 4-2 while lowering his ERA to a solid 3.45.
Ruiz said the Honkers will soon have some more pitching help as Anthony Lopez and Travis Carter have been signed. But the team may also be searching for position players as catcher Geno Escalante will be leaving for school and infielder Zach Miller has been lost to an ankle injury.