A lot of things have changed for Colin Hines in the last year.
Suffering from a malfunctioning pituitary gland, he has gained almost 30 pounds. The condition has also decreased his running speed, bat power and pitching velocity.
And that's when he's able to drag his tiring body out of bed in the morning.
Somehow, Hines still manages to play baseball. Friday night, the left-hander pitched a three-hitter as Mission Hills stayed alive in the Senior League World Series with a 7-1 victory over the East (New Hampshire).
Mission Hills plays the South (Tennessee) this morning at 10:30 in the losers' bracket of the 14- and 15-year-old division all-star tournament. The winner plays Latin America at 6 p.m.
If Mission Hills survives a doubleheader today, Manager Corey Sanders said he will come back Sunday with Hines.
"I try to use him whenever he looks healthy," Sanders said. "There are times when he looks real tired and I don't use him. But today he threw only 80 pitches and had great control."
The East scored only an unearned run in the seventh inning off Hines, who struck out three and did not walk a batter.
"From the end of one baseball season to the beginning of the next, I almost couldn't recognize him," Sanders said of Hines. "He used to be more of a power pitcher, relying on strikeouts.
"Now he's adjusted to being a ground ball pitcher. I think he recognizes he can't overpower people anymore, so he concentrates on keeping the ball in the ballpark and making the right pitches."
That strategy backfired on Hines in the tournament opener Tuesday night. He allowed only six hits, but five Mission Hills errors led to a pair of unearned runs in a 2-1 loss to the Far East (Taiwan).
Against the East, however, Hines found defensive support. Other than the three strikeouts and two fly balls, the remaining 16 outs were recorded by the infield, according to Sanders.
The West regional champions' only error cost Hines his shutout. Mission Hills has allowed seven runs in the tournament--all unearned.
Yet Sanders seemed pleased with the results from a defensive change in which third baseman Mike Rodrigues and second baseman Gary Pina switched positions.
"Mike made at least five excellent plays at second," Sanders said. "And Pina seemed more comfortable at third because he didn't have to cover as much ground."
Offensively, Ronald Robart's two-run single in the first inning, scoring Tom Costic and Brian Eldridge, stood up as the game-winner.
Missions Hills added four more runs in the fourth. Costic and Eldridge singled with one out and J. R. Trujillo walked to lead the bases. Pina doubled to bring in two runs, and Darren Maldonado followed with a two-run single for a 6-0 Missions Hills lead.
Robart knocked in his third run with his third hit of the day--a single that scored Trujillo from second base.
"He's been hot lately," said Sanders of Robart. "He was batting eighth, but today he batted sixth. That's as high as I'll move him because we need the the RBIs in that spot."
What Sanders could really use is a more favorable tournament schedule. If Mission Hills is to claim the World Series title, it will have to win doubleheaders today and Sunday.
The prospect of four games in two days has Sanders concerned about the depth of his pitching staff, although he is cautious about looking past today's game with the South.
"I'm thinking ahead all the time, but I don't want the team to," Sanders said. "I have to look ahead to see what I might do, but this could be our toughest game."
Sanders said he will start his best pitcher, Frank Serna, instead of saving him for later in the tournament. "I have to get there first," he said. "I have to go with my best because I think we're playing the best (team in the tournament)."
Robart or Pina would get the start in the event of a second game today. Hines and Costic would be the likely starters if Mission Hills goes the distance Sunday.
"It's crucial that we get complete games from our pitchers today, because whoever I use I won't be able to go tomorrow," Sanders said.
The Far East is the only undefeated team in the tournament and will be idle today while the West (Mission Hills), South (Tennessee) and Latin America (Cozumel, Mexico) battle elimination.