“It’s great to have other kids that can win games,” Ruotolo said.
To protect his staff, Bettencourt limits his pitchers to a pitch count, regardless of the game situation.
Of course, there are some exceptions for someone like Ruotolo, who pitches throughout the offseason to extend his pitch limit for the start of the season.
“Pat’s work ethic away from us is like nothing we’ve ever seen,” Bettencourt said. “He works two or three days a week during the hockey season, and at his first start, he’s ready to throw 120 pitches.”
In season, Ruotolo said the pitchers also do a lot of conditioning with resistance bands to stay in shape.
On Wednesday, the Tanners opened against defending Division 1 champion Xaverian and McLaughlin pitched five innings. Despite being tied 1-1 with the Hawks, Bettencourt pulled McLaughlin at 82 pitches — two over the limit he set before the game.
“The philosophy is, there is not one game worth a player’s health,” Bettencourt said. “McLaughlin could have gone a sixth inning, but he was at 82 pitches and we had him at 80.”
Sophomore Ryan Collins delivered a timely two-out, two-run single to give the Tanners a 3-1 lead, and Apostolides gave up a run in the sixth but slammed the door on the Hawks in 1-2-3 fashion, using just eight pitches to earn the save.
“To see McLaughlin and Apostolides take on the number-one team and come out with a win makes me smile, and they’re buying into my system,” Bettencourt said. “That’s a good situation for us as a team.”
Anthony Gulizia can be reached at email@example.com.