Zachary Merchant (SNHU) delivering a pitch on Saturday at home against Oneonta.
In week five of the 2018 season, Zachary Merchant pitched a complete game (seven innings) without allowing an earned run to earn Spotlight Player of the Week honors.
In game two of the July 7th home doubleheader against the Oneonta Outlaws, Merchant retired the first twelve batters he faced and allowed just three hits en route to his first win of the season as the Dutchmen defeated Oneonta, 6-1.
When asked if he was aware of the perfect game in progress, Merchant said, “Obviously I had the small thought of, ‘darn, I’m perfect through four right now.’ But at the same time, I was trying not to worry about that and just focus on trying to get guys out and finishing my job.”
In the fourth out of six games over a three day stretch, the performance could not have come at a better time. “What ‘Merch’ was able to give us where we were in the schedule, we wouldn’t have been able to do what we did without his performance,” Dutchmen Head Coach, Nick Davey, said.
The Dutchmen are coming off two doubleheader sweeps in consecutive days and ended a three-day stretch of doubleheaders with a record of 5-1. The boost propelled Albany to second place in the East Division, currently trailing the Saugerties Stallions by half of a game.
With the quantity of games in the short period of time, Merchant knew that his success was pivotal to the sustained success of the team. “We were short on arms and I thought, hey, I just need to go out and give at least five strong innings and when it got to the fifth I knew I was going to be able to finish it out.”
Merchant, the Southern New Hampshire University product who just completed his Freshman season with the Penmen, matched his total from his previous three starts of the season in strikeouts with nine.
“There wasn’t much that I did differently,” Merchant said. “I just had a little bit different mentality and told myself to try not to be too perfect and compete. Clearly it worked pretty well.”
Coach Davey was most impressed by Zach’s efficiency and willingness to challenge the opposition. “It was the first time all year where he went out and dominated strike one and was able to put guys away pretty easily.”
In 91 pitches, Merchant threw 65 strikes (71.4%) and converted 18 out of 25 first pitch strikes (72.0%). Zach’s performance on Saturday lowered his ERA by nearly three and a half points. After struggling early on in the season, Coach Davey hopes for him to be a valuable asset for the club down the stretch.
“For us to do what we want to do this season, that is the ‘March’ we need the rest of the way,” Davey said.
“My plan for the rest of the season is to have the same mentality that I had Saturday for my next start and use that as something to look back at and to move on from and try to keep improving,” Merchant said.