TAMPA — It takes a special kind of player to voluntarily take the kind of punishment that is asked of a catcher. Then again, it takes a special kind of player, when asked about the fourth curveball in the dirt with the winning run on third base, to state: “If the ball was on the ground, I was going to eat it for my team. I don’t care where it was, I was going to eat it with my teeth.”
Hillsborough High baseball standout Jesus Vega is that kind of player.
The Terriers had let a late lead slip away against Chamberlain on Tuesday night, and things could have gotten out of hand if not for the senior’s work behind the plate. Vega kept five spiked balls in front of him and caught a number of others in the dirt.
“Our pitchers know what he can do,” Terriers coach Kenny White said. “They have no fear of throwing any pitch at any time, because there is no better catcher blocking pitches and catching fly balls in the county.”
Vega caught nine innings in the 6-5 victory, including the final two from ace Chris Figueredo, who earned the win after Diamond Johnson singled in the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth.
“Vega does a great job, and some of the pitches (we) threw were too hot to handle,” Figueredo said. “But there is no doubt to any of us that he’s one of the best around.”
Newsome, East Bay play to 15-inning draw
Newsome and East Bay played 15 innings Tuesday night before Hillsborough County rules forced the game to end in a 3-all tie.
Newsome led 3-0 after the fourth inning, but the Indians scored three times in the next two innings to tie the game.
The teams then played nine scoreless innings, with each team using three pitchers.
“After (East Bay tied it), it was just a battle,” Newsome coach Bill Highsmith said. “It was a good game. Both teams had their chances, but neither of us could get the job done.”