With two outs in the seventh inning Sunday night, State College Spikes reliever Will Latcham grabbed his Red Bull.
Latcham took a few sips and chugged the rest before heading to the mound to close out his team’s 3-1 win over the Batavia Muckdogs at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. He downs the energy drink whenever he pitches for the sugar rush. He feeds off of it like he feeds off of the adrenaline rush from the fans in the ballpark.
Latcham wants to carry all that energy with him to the mound.
“Whenever I’m on that mound, I don’t really remember much,” Latcham said. “I black out. I usually just have that tunnel vision.”
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Latcham pitched two scoreless innings Sunday night to earn the first save of his professional career. The right-hander shouted into his glove at times as he recorded three strikeouts to seal the Spikes’ fifth straight win. He looks forward to pitching in pressure situations after serving as Coastal Carolina’s closer this past season, and Spikes manager Joe Kruzel said Latcham has the ability to finish games in the New York-Penn League.
Kruzel noted that Latcham pitches “with a lot of energy,” while Spikes first baseman Tyler Lancaster described the reliever as “intense.”
Latcham called himself “nuts.”
“That’s just how he’s wired, and you love that about him,” Kruzel said. “When he goes out there, you know you’re getting what he’s got. You really enjoy that about him. He brings a lot of energy when he goes on that mound. He’s fun to watch. He really is.”
Latcham is starting his pro career with the Spikes after he was selected in the 17th round of this year’s MLB draft by the St. Louis Cardinals. He never pictured himself reaching this point, but this is the start of achieving another dream. He made one dream come true by pitching at Coastal Carolina for one season after spending two years at Cumberland County Community College.
Latcham — Briarcliffe, Pa., native — was a starting pitcher during his entire career, from his time on the mound at Cardinal O’Hara High School to his two-year stint in junior college. When he joined Coastal Carolina — the defending national champions — the coaches put him in the bullpen.
He was the team’s setup man for a few appearances before earning the coaching staff’s trust to take on the closer role.
“I got to go there one year,” Latcham said. “Everyone else was there from freshman until senior year, so I had to show myself to prove that I can be that guy.”
Latcham adjusted well to becoming a reliever and went 3-0 with four saves and a 1.05 ERA at Coastal Carolina in 2017. He likes pitching in close games and doing whatever it takes to win — even chugging a Red Bull to add to the rush that he thrives on.
The role fits his personality, too.
Although Latcham is known for being “nuts,” it showed more when he was younger.
“I used to play hockey,” Latcham said. “I broke three sticks in one game, and one dude kept messing with me like hitting my shins, my skates or whatever, so after we beat them, in the handshake line, we kind of fought.
“And then I got kicked out of the league.”
He was 10 or 12 years old at the time, and he’s not sure where all the intensity comes from. He said his parents are “more relaxed, calm people” and added that he’s just that “one-of-a-kind son.” Latcham showed his personality on the mound in the eighth inning with the Spikes ahead 2-1 on Sunday night.
He said he became more hyped than he needed to be after Lancaster caught a line-drive and threw to second base for a double play to clear the bases. And he yelled into his glove after he thought he had an inning-ending strikeout — the ump ruled instead ruled it a ball — then returned to the mound and got the strikeout to send the game to the ninth.
“He’s an intense player, man,” Lancaster said. “I love him. He’s a good clubhouse guy. He’s a great teammate. He’s a leader on this team.”