Jeff Cline may not be the next Nolan Ryan. Or Walter Johnson. Or Tom Seaver.
But Cline looked like a future Hall of Famer Saturday night as the 6-foot-2 right-hander mowed down the Legion Raiders in the Al Ice Woodbat Classic.
Cline allowed just one hit and fanned 16 during a seven-inning route-going performance in the Kansas City Bombers’ 5-0 victory at Hoglund Ballpark.
“He’s a good pitcher,” Raiders second baseman Nick Hassig said. “He threw hard, but I think we could have had a better performance.”
With aluminum bats, perhaps.
“We just have to understand the concept of what to do,” Raiders coach Wilson Kilmer said, “when you have a wood bat in your hands and see above-average speed.”
The Raiders had some consolation in knowing that Cline had whiffed 16 batters in another game this summer.
“He’s our ace,” Bombers coach Joe Miller said. “He’s undefeated, and his earned-run average is under 1.”
Most of the Bombers’ players are from the North Kansas City, Mo., area. Cline graduated from Platte County, Mo., High last month and plans to attend Maple Woods Community College.
Hassig had the Raiders’ lone safety — a line single to right with two outs in the first inning. Hassig stole second and went to third on an error, but was stranded.
The only other Raider to reach base was catcher Brian Kindle, who was hit by a pitch and walked in three plate appearances. Kindle also had the distinction of being the lone Raider who didn’t strike out at least once against Cline.
The Raiders’ No. 6 through No. 9 hitters were a combined 0-for-9 with all of the outs strikeouts.
The Bombers advanced to a semifinal at 10 a.m. today against the K.C. Barnstormers, the only club in the eight-team tournament that won all three of its pool-play games.
Meanwhile, the Raiders went 1-2 in their pool and failed to qualify for the semis. They’re scheduled to meet the Ozark, Mo., Merchants at 9:30 a.m. today at Ice Field.
“We’re ready to go,” Hassig said. “Most of us are up that early anyway. But it definitely would have been good to play at (Hoglund) again.”
Kilmer said he’s eager for another opportunity for his players to learn how to use wood bats properly.
“That’s why we’re playing such good competition,” the Raiders coach said, “so we can learn how to do that.”