Bagdad ace Connor Watson kept slipping in his cleats on the portable mound used at Victory Lane in Glendale against Anthem Prep on Tuesday.
The artificial surface on the portable mound made it difficult for the left-hander to keep his footing.
So, after walking two successive batters in the third inning, head coach Dalton Mills came out to the mound to give up his shoes to his 6-foot-2 junior pitcher.
“I said, ‘What size pair of shoes do you wear?’ ” Mills said. “He said, ‘I wear 11-and-a-half.’ I said, ‘I do, too.’
“I told the umpire he needs to change shoes. They had their 1-2-3 batters coming up and he struck those guys out. I joked with him that those shoes have never given up a hit.”
Watson wasn’t the only pitcher to wear Mill’s coaching turf shoes. Freshman Shane Hooper came on in the seventh inning to get the last out — in his coach’s shoes. Hooper also wears a size 11½ shoe. He retired the last batter in the 11-1 win.
The two combined on a 1-hitter. Watson improved to 5-0 for the 10-1 Sultans, the top team in 1A that lost their only game to 3A Wickenburg. Watson leads the state in strikeouts with 65 in 27? innings.
“Once I switched shoes, I was all right,” Watson said.
Mills forgot that a portable mound is used at Victory Lane, which has softball and baseball diamonds with no mounds. The portable mound is made of wood with turf on top of it.
Mills offered his shoes before the game, but Watson decided to try to pitch with cleats.
“I was OK for the first couple of innings, but then I started to slip,” he said. “The different shoes helped a lot.”
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