Virginia Tech Baseball Makes Strides In Fall Ball

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Pat Mason, Virginia Tech Baseball
Pat Mason, photo courtesy of Virginia Tech

This past Friday, the Hokies were back in action during the fall season with another intrasquad scrimmage. With the live game opportunities, some players took advantage of their chances and made their mark in the scrimmage.

“Our at bats were really good,” said head coach Patrick Mason. “Between the two teams, we had 38 guys get on base in 69 plate appearances.

“Jake Rosen, JD Mundy, Joe Freiday [Jr.], those three jump out at me tonight the way they played. Those three I thought played a complete game. I thought Coop [Rahiem Cooper] played a good game tonight too. Progression wise, Cole [Kragel] had an important outing tonight after what his appearance looked like last week. Paul [Hall Jr.] had another good outing, so that’s good to see.”

Freiday flexed his muscles early in the scrimmage, nearly homering to straightaway center, but instead settling for a double off the wall. In fact, Freiday made a concerted effort during the offseason to put in the work in the weight room and improve his power.

“You can ask a lot of my friends, I had this whole thing, ‘the road to 250,’” Freiday said. “I left last summer at about 225 lbs and now I’m up to about 245, so power has always been something that is a part of my game for most of my life, and I just wanted to take it to that next level.”

While Freiday provides a major spark to the Hokie offense, his ability to guide the pitching staff and develop a rapport with them is perhaps his greatest responsibility.

“Joe never stops working,” said Mason. “If there’s one thing that kid knows how to do its work. He doesn’t have an off switch. More than anything he provides a sense of security. He does a great job receiving, a great job blocking. Tonight he did a good job throwing and really eliminated all the mistakes he had last week. He provides confidence to those guys. He goes out and shares what he sees. He’s really good in bullpens and gives awesome feedback midweek.”

The fall season is also a great setting for some of the freshmen to find their footing and develop a level of comfort within the program. Keagan McGinnis, the 6-6, 215-lb freshman hurler, saw some major bright spots during his outing on the bump. Pitching coach Jamie Pinzino hopes to see the continual improvement of McGinnis and the other freshmen in the hope they can add depth to the staff.

“There were some positives on the day for Keagan, and then there was some times where he struggled a little bit,” Pinzino explained. “He’s a freshman, he’s definitely in a better place right now three weeks into the fall than at the beginning of the fall. I think sometimes as a freshman you come in and there’s a thousand different things going through your head. You’re away from home for the first time, you don’t know how to do your own laundry yet, whatever the heck it is. You have to slow things down a little bit.

“I think he’s a guy who’s starting to get a little more comfortable everyday at practice, a little more comfortable in his bullpens, and slowly that will transition onto the mound. I think his curveball was pretty good tonight, he did a good job in that last inning. Bases loaded with nobody out and getting out of that jam with a double play and then the ground ball.”

After several injuries derailed the pitching staff last year, Pinzino has come in and attempted to create a regimented program in order to avoid the same misfortunes as last year.

“I like to think that I’ve had success in keeping guys healthy, but it’s not an exact science,” Pinzino said. “You can’t sprinkle magic dust on them and say we know everybody is going to be healthy. When you talk about arm care, it’s a combination of everything that you do. At practice here with the throwing program, it’s what they do before they throw every day, it’s what they do after they throw every day, it’s the conditioning program, it’s what we do in the weight room. All that stuff factors in. Making sure they get enough time off during the course of the year. That’s a work in progress, and hopefully, time will tell, but I think each guy is different with how you have to take care of him and how you have to take care of your arm.

“One thing we did this year is that we screened all the guys in the weight room and training room trying to look for deficiencies in the range of motion with different parts of their body, flexibility, and stability. That’s something that helps us identify certain things that could lead to an injury. The goal is to individualize each guy’s throwing program. Individualize each guy’s pitching program, not just for health but development with velocity, development with command, everything that’s going to help him as a pitcher.”

One of the pitchers whose year was ended early due to injury is the redshirt junior Aaron McGarity. McGarity was a key piece for the Hokie bullpen last year, appearing in 10 games and posting a 2.38 earned run average before being sidelined for the rest of the year. Now nearing the end of his recovery process, McGarity had a velocity of 93 mph in pulldowns at practice.

“Probably stuff wise, McGarrity has really stuck out,” explained Pinzino. “He’s a guy that we’ll be getting back here pretty soon. He’s been throwing bullpens and his stuff looks awesome. He should be cleared next week to actually start partaking in the scrimmages and kind of getting back to form. It’s always a transition to go from bullpens to games, but as far as what I’ve seen out him, fastball and slider, he’s really good.”

Virginia Tech’s fall season will continue on as the Hokies hope to find continual improvement in all aspects of the game.

Notes

Virginia Tech baseball alum Chad Pinder hit his first MLB home run Thursday night against the Seattle Mariners. Drafted by the Oakland Athletics in 2nd round of the 2013 draft, Pinder is hitting .224 in 20 games with the A’s this year.
“It was great,” said Mason. “I woke up and I had missed it, but I saw it later. I shot him a text and he got back to me. It’s awesome, Chad is such a good guy, a hard worker, just gives back to our program and the community. Everything that he gets up there, everything he achieves he deserves. We’re all proud of him here, and it was great to wake up and see that.”

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