|Ben Lively, image- Jay Floyd
TRENTON- Righty pitcher Ben Lively struck out a career-high 12 batters in an excellent performance, helping the Reading Fightins (24-13) win by a score of 7-2 and clinch a series split in a four game set on the road against the division rival Thunder (19-16).
In the outing, the 24-year-old gave up four hits while walking four over seven scoreless frames.
With the win, Lively's record this season goes to a gleaming 6-0. In eight starts for the first place Fightins, the six-foot-four 190-pounder sports a Double-A Eastern League best 1.53 ERA, an 8.8 K/9 mark and a 0.96 WHIP.
The numbers are a nice improvement over his efforts last year that saw Lively post an 8-7 record with a 4.13 ERA, a 7.0 K/9 and a 1.43 WHIP in 25 starts for Reading. The Florida native feels a change of approach is what has helped him improve.
"I'm just making more quality pitches early in at bats this year and it's just been helping me a lot," Lively said. "Last year I felt like I was trying to put guys away right off the bat and it definitely didn't help. So, this year, I just kind of changed the attitude to make quality pitches early in at bats and letting the guys behind me work and getting the strike out when I need to."
Lively, ranked by Phillies Nation as the team's number 23 prospect this year, might not be among the top prospect names that fans or media types will think of when it comes to the Phillies organization, but he's emerging as one they should get to know better. Lively, himself, doesn't pay any attention to keeping up with other well-regarded up-and-coming talents in the Phils' developmental ranks.
"I'm just going to play my game and if I play my game and everything goes how I want it to be, then it should all work itself out. I mean, I'm not going to get all hyped up about all the prospect stuff and let all that stuff get to me. I'm just going to play my game and keep it rolling," Lively stated.
After taking a 1-0 lead when Rhys Hoskins grounded into a double play, scoring a run, in the opening frame, the Fightins busted things open in the 3rd inning. Following RBI hits by Hoskins and Dylan Cozens, designated hitter, "The Cerebral Slugger" Jake Fox came to the dish and swiftly ousted a baseball from ARM & HAMMER Park for a three-run home run to put the team up 6-0. All of the early damage was done against Trenton right-hander Matt Wotherspoon.
Trenton got on the board in the 8th inning, when Lane Adams plated a run with a ground out against lefty Jeremy Bleich.
Fox would do damage again in the 9th with a run-scoring single against reliever Alex Smith.
The scoring would wrap up in the bottom of the 9th when Miguel Nunez allowed an inherited runner to score on a fielders choice.
Reading will enjoy a day off on Monday before beginning a stretch of 27 straight days with a game scheduled, when their road trips continues in Bowie on Tuesday.