At 5-foot-9-inches and 150 pounds, Scott Herman is the smallest player on the Redmond baseball team. He is a middle relief pitcher who doesn’t get many starts or many saves. At the plate, he hits toward the bottom of the lineup and few — if any — pitchers will ever pitch around him.
But Herman is Redmond’s true unsung hero.
All year long, Herman has come in relief in the middle innings with base runners in a close game just trying to get or maintain a lead before getting the ball to closer Marcus Flynn.
And more often than not, he does. Possibly even with a bigger lead.
Herman exemplified his importance — both pitching and at the plate — in Thursday’s 11-6 4A Kingco win against Lake Washington at Hartman Park.
Redmond, third-ranked in the state, lost 6-4 to No. 8 Woodinville (11-4) on Saturday, but was still in first place in Kingco with a 14-2 mark.
Herman led the Mustangs against the Kangs by pitching six strong innings in relief, giving up just three hits and two runs. He also drove in four runs at the plate, including his first career home run at any level as part of the critical six-run third inning as first-place Redmond clinched a playoff spot.
“He is one of those guys who makes me look pretty smart,” Redmond head coach Dan Pudwill said. “He just comes in and he has come in on some tough spots. He came in a tough spot today.”
Junior pitcher Mac Acker struggled finding the strike zone and was pulled in the second inning with bases loaded and nobody out and the heart of the Kang order upcoming. Herman would give up one double, but would get three of the next five hitters out to minimize the damage to a 5-2 Lake Washington lead.
“I’m not going to lie, I’m pretty used to it this year,” Herman said of entering the game in a tight spot. “I like pressure situations.”
From then on, he shut Lake Washington down. He would give up just two more hits and one earned run as Redmond won 11-6.
“He’s been huge,” Pudwill said. “We’ve used Flynn as our closer, but he gets us there. When we are in a tight spot, and the pitcher is sitting there and struggling, he’s the guy I want to go to right now.”
Herman was also a star at the plate, hitting a towering three-run blast over the left field fence that tied the game at 6. The Mustangs scored two more in the inning to take control of the game.
“I’ve gotten close a few times, (but we) play at the deeper ballparks and (I) always get robbed, its nice to see one (go out),” Herman said. “I don’t even remember it actually. I was floating around first base. I guess it’s true, you don’t remember your first one. But it felt good off the bat.”
Herman, who relies on offspeed pitches, said several times that he can’t be as effective without the defense behind him.
“I’m not a strikeout pitcher,” Herman said. “I rely heavily on (Justin) Kopak, (Marcus) Flynn and Timmy (Wilson) to field some ground balls, and throw them out.
“Absolutely amazing,” Herman continued about the defense. “Gold gloves all the way around. There’s not a weak link on this baseball team.”
The words “absolutely amazing” would be apt in describing the Mustangs’ offense this year too, scoring double digit runs in four of the last seven games after the Lake Washington win. Eight of the nine Mustang hitters got on base at least twice against Lake Washington, with five of them doing it three times.
Cleanup hitter Landon Morris led the way, hitting his fourth home run of the year with a two-strike, two-run shot that hit a branch near the top of one of the evergreen trees in left field in the sixth to extend the lead to 10-6.
Herman said he’s lucky he doesn’t have to face the Mustang lineup, but did come up with one unique strategy to stop the hit parade.
“Bean them all,” Herman said with a chuckle, referring to hitting the batters with a pitch.