From Tullahoma News
Making just his second start for the Bowie Baysox on Sunday night, 2011 Tullahoma High School graduate David Hess made the most of his opportunity, securing his first victory at the Double-A level.
The right-handed pitcher was called up to the Baysox, a Double-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles, on Aug. 30. In 6.2 innings on the hill on Sunday, Hess allowed just one run, four hits and two walks while striking out eight batters. Bowie went on to defeat the Erie SeaWolves 7-1.
“It was really cool getting the opportunity to go out there at the end of the year and kind of get a taste at this level,” Hess said. “Hopefully, this will prepare me for next year in getting to come back and pick up where I left off. That was a good starting point, or I guess ending point so to say for this year, but a good starting point for next year.”
After allowing the only run to cross the plate, following a one-out triple in the bottom of the first inning, Hess settled down. The 22-year-old only allowed two batters to reach base after the bottom of the third, one reaching on a walk and the other on a one-out single in the bottom of the seventh.
“The first inning was kind of shaky and I was just trying to settle in. After I was able to do that, I felt really good and I felt really in control,” Hess said. “I was able to throw both of my breaking balls for strikes and throw my changeup when I needed to. I established inside and outside command with my fastball. Anytime you are able to do that, you are doing what you need to do. All in all, it was great because I was able to do those things.”
The victory for Hess follows a debut for the Baysox that was less than stellar back on Sept. 1. In 3.1 innings against the Altoona Curve, the THS grad allowed four runs on six hits, walked two and struck out four batters, in a loss.
“The biggest difference from that first start was that I came up and I had to learn how to pitch here,” Hess said. “Here it isn’t going out there and getting away with some of the stuff that you could get away with at lower levels because the hitters at this level are really good. At the same time, I didn’t have to do anything too different, I just had to mix up pitches to keep them off balance and keep the ball down in the zone. Anytime you do that, you are going to have good results.
“The first game that I pitched here I didn’t do a good enough job and the numbers showed,” he added. “This past game I did a much better job and the results were good.”
Before being called up to Bowie, Hess racked up a 9-4 record with the Frederick Keys, a Class-A affiliate of the Orioles. In 26 games with the Keys he allowed 53 runs, 112 hits and 53 walks while recording 110 strikeouts in 133.1 innings pitched.
At the time of his promotion, Hess was second in the Carolina League in batting average against and games started, fourth in strikeouts, fifth in innings pitched and ninth in ERA.
In July, Hess was named the Orioles Minor League Pitcher of the Month. In July he went 2-0 with a 1.82 ERA. He only allowed seven runs and 22 hits in 34.2 innings pitched while opponents batted .180 against him. Only Lynchburg Hillcats’ pitcher Michael Peoples posted a lower ERA, 0.87, among the Carolina League starters in August.
His success carried over into August as he compiled a 4-0 record during the month. In 27.1 innings pitched, Hess went 4-0 and held opponents to a .186 average.
Hess’ best outing came on Aug. 25 when he pitched a complete-game one-hit shutout victory against the Potomac Nationals. In seven innings, he allowed just the one hit and a walk while striking out five batters.
While Hess had success toward the end of the season, he said it wasn’t all pretty and he went through some learning experiences.
“Earlier in the year there were a lot of adjustments and it was a difficult growing process,” he said. “There were a lot of frustrating times. I wasn’t pitching that great, but what I really learned early on is that you have to learn how to pitch. It isn’t one of those things where you wake up one day and say, ‘Oh I get it.’ You’ve got to go out there and you’ve got to have a game plan. Not only that, you have to execute that.
“A lot of it, is keeping hitters off balance, being able to throw breaking balls for strikes, not just relying on the fastball and being able to mix your pitches and keep the hitters off balance,” he continued. “The first half of the season was learning that and adapting to what was going on because it was a higher level than I had been in before.”
During the All-Star break, Hess said he took some time to get away from the game, visiting his girlfriend and her parents in West Virginia. While enjoying their company, Hess also used the two-day break as an opportunity to prepare for the second half of the season.
“During that time, I took some time and focused and what was going on with me and really sit down and mentally prepare myself and let go of stuff that had been weighing on me during the first half,” Hess said. “Once I got back on track and started prioritizing what was important, it all just clicked and fell into place and it’s been a really fun second half. After that, I feel like I made some good adjustments and it was a really good second half.
“I was really fortunate to go out and pitch well and the Orioles recognized that because I received Pitcher of the Month a few times and that was a great honor and accomplishment,” he added. “Getting to come up here [Bowie] to finish out the year, it’s really been a big blessing and I’m really excited to see where it takes me.”
While the regular season wrapped up on Monday, Hess will get to experience postseason play for the first time. The Baysox racked up a 79-63 record, clinching a seat in the Eastern League Playoffs. Postseason play gets underway on Wednesday as Bowie will travel to Altoona, Pennsylvania.
“Going over to the field today [Tuesday] everybody is excited and the coaches are ready to go. It’s a really cool experience getting to be here,” Hess said. “I got fortunate because the team that we are playing in the first round is actually the team that I pitched against in my first outing, so I’m kind of familiar with them. I think it is really going to be a cool experience to go out there and play against the best teams in this league and against some of the best players and hopefully moving forward with that.”
The Curves and Baysox will battle in a best-of-five-game series, with the winner advancing to the Eastern League Championship game. Either Bowie or Altoona will advance to take on the winner of the Eastern League Eastern series, which features the Binghamton Mets and Reading Fightin Phils.
If the Baysox and Curves series reaches game four, Hess is scheduled to get the start. If that game is necessary, it will take place on Saturday at 6:05 p.m. in Altoona. Audio will be available from that game and listeners can hear it at www.baysox.com.