Billy Vernon whirled away and threw up his hands. And for now, let's keep the description to that.
Vernon, a senior righthander for visiting Germantown Academy, needed to retire one more batter to earn an important Inter-Ac League baseball victory over archrival Penn Charter. But the bases were now loaded and Vernon's hulking coach, Craig Conlin, was striding to the mound, hook in hand.
"Very, very difficult decision," Conlin said. "The game's at Penn Charter. He's a senior. He's a lifer at Germantown Academy . . . Very, very difficult decision."
Junior righthander Peter Rosa strode in from the bullpen. Vernon trotted to centerfield.
Mark Adzick hacked at the first pitch. Clang! An absolute blast.
"Well, I could see it was low," Vernon said. "I just hoped it was going to an infielder."
Thwack! Right into the glove of second baseman Sean Coyle.
GA 5, PC 2. BV 1 huge sigh of relief.
So, what kind of emotions were stirring when Vernon realized a complete game would not be possible. Dismay? Disgust? Disappointment? Anger? Frustration?
"Ah, I just felt I could have finished the game. But I understand completely," Vernon said, smiling. "It was one of those in-the-moment [reactions]."
A quick one, of course.
If there's one sure thing about Billy Vernon on baseball fields, it's that there's never a hint of dilly-dallying.
If you happen to attend a game when Vernon is pitching, and your cell phone makes possible such nuttiness, time how long it takes Vernon to deliver the ball after taking return throws from catcher Joe Conaway. Press the button when Billy catches. Press it again when the pitch leaves his hand. Don't be surprised if the reading is under 5.0.
Hey, it runs in the family. Billy's brother, Pete "Paco" Vernon, a GA grad now pitching for William & Mary, is also an extremely fast worker.
"I think my brother actually works faster," Billy said. "My dad always told us to do it, and that it would help, and when I saw that it did work for Pete . . . Natural for me to follow.
"I like getting into a rhythm. I'm more comfortable that way. There are times when I need to slow it down a little, but otherwise . . . It helps me maintain control."
As expected, batters often try to apply his brakes.
"I've even had umpires tell me to slow it up," he said, laughing. "You don't want to get on their bad side. There's never anything illegal about [the approach]. I just like working quickly."
This game, which lasted only 1 hour, 42 minutes, originally figured to be a showdown between Adzick, a Wake Forest-bound lefty, and John Barr, a Virginia signee as an outfielder but hardly a pitching slouch; he posted a perfect game in the season opener vs. Archbishop Wood.
Adzick was limited to first-base duty because of muscle strain in his side. Barr, meanwhile, recently injured his shoulder on a dive back to first base. He had to watch from the bench.
Vernon learned Monday he'd be pitching. He was perfect through three and did not give up a clean hit (Sammy Zeglinski's bunt single to lead off the fourth was iffy) until Mario Incollingo singled hard to center with two away in the fifth.
Zeglinski, a Virginia basketball signee, followed with an RBI single. Adzick's triple and Doug Fleming's double produced a run in the sixth. With two away and runners on first and third in the seventh, Rob Amaro fell into an 0-2 hole and then milked a walk.
"I wasn't going to let Billy face Amaro, but he'd done well with him earlier," Conlin said. "He had to get him, though. Once he didn't . . . "
Vernon allowed six hits, walked three and struck out four. Most of his support against Mike Carroll came from Conaway (two-run homer), Nick Stampone (double, triple, RBI) and Coyle's brother, Tommy (two doubles, RBI).
Vernon, who lives near GA in Fort Washington, is a spectacular student. He scored 1,530 on the SAT and was granted early acceptance by Stanford. He'll major in math, plus find a way to pursue an interest in philosophy.
If he does play baseball, it'll be as a walk-on.
"I doubt I'll make it, but I'll try just for fun. Why not, right?" he said. "I've wanted to go to Stanford since I was a little kid. It combines really good academics with really good athletics. That's something I want, to be able to cheer for a school with good athletics."
The last Vernon brother, Timmy, is a sophomore at GA. His interest is writing and he does reports for the school paper. So, where was he yesterday?
"He was the starting pitcher in the JV game," Billy said proudly.
Here's betting no one hollered, "Yo, kid, you gonna pitch that ball sometime today?!" *