Hokies beat Rutgers

Jacob Emert, SportsWar, on March 20, 2014
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Pitching thus far in 2014 has been a bit of an issue for the Hokies. The team ERA heading into Wednesday night’s game with Rutgers was 5.88. Against the Scarlet Knight’s though, it was not.

In fact, the pitching was so good that in addition to the regular game recap, it’s a perfect opportunity to dive a little deeper into some pitching stats for you.

Wednesday night vs. Rutgers | Hokies 6 – Rutgers 3

Tech’s starter, Luis Collazo, was provided a comfortable cushion almost immediately on Wednesday night against Rutgers. After a scoreless top of the first, the Hokies batted around the order in their half of the frame, starting with a Kyle Wernicki walk and ending with him grounding out to short.

In between, the Hokies (10-8-1) scored five runs, knocked three doubles to left field, smoked a single to right and drew two walks. Tom Stoffel, a freshman outfielder (who is also listed as a pitcher but hasn’t seen the bump this year), was the offensive star of the game. He had one of the two-RBI doubles in the inning (Sean Keselica had the other), and added two singles and a walk later in the game. He also scored twice.

Collazo got through the top of the second without any trouble either, but in the third he found himself in a jam to no one’s fault other than his own. He walked the first three Rutgers batters of the inning, all on full-count offerings.

After the first two free passes, freshman reliever Jon Woodcock starting warming up in the bullpen.

Collazo struck out the next two hitters, manipulating the corners of the plate much to the dismay of the Scarlet Knight hitters who both went down looking. On a payoff pitch, designated hitter Lou Clemente burned Collazo for those earlier walks and doubled down the right field line, emptying the bases.

Head coach Pat Mason immediately walked to the mound to pull Collazo from the game.

(The factors that went into Mason’s decision to leave Collazo in after the walks and his original intentions for Collazo’s outing can be found in the full transcript of our postgame interview at the bottom)

Mason used seven different relievers to get the final 19 outs of the game. As a whole, they were brilliant.

Here is each reliever’s line (notice their years):

Jon Woodcock (freshman, LHP): 1.1 IP, 0 H, O R, 1 SO, 1 BB
Phil Sciretta (sophomore, LHP): 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 SO, 0 BB
Tanner McIntyre (senior, RHP): 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 4 SO, 0 BB
JD Doran (junior, LHP): walked the only batter he faced
Andrew McDonald (freshman, LHP) allowed a single to the only batter he faced
Sean Kennedy (sophomore, LHP): 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 SO, 0 BB
Luke Scherzer (freshman, RHP) 1.0, 0 H, 0 R, 0 SO, 1 BB

The Hokies were able to get an insurance run in the eighth when Alex Perez walked with the bases loaded brining in Stoffel, but the relievers didn’t need it.

Breaking down Tech pitching:

  • Including the two base runners Wednesday night, Sean Kennedy has inherited 13 runners this season. Only once has he allowed one of them to score (March 15 vs. Pittsburgh) His success rate is best on the team.
  • Jon Woodcock’s scoreless 1.1 innings against RU dropped his season ERA to 2.84. That means he and Kennedy (2.13) are the only two sub-3.00 ERA pitchers on the roster, starter or reliever.
  • Three Tech pitchers have started weekday games. Sean Keselica started the first one, but only because he missed his regularly scheduled weekend start. Matt Tulley and Andrew McDonald started the next two versus William & Marry and Richmond respectively, but neither was impressive. Now it looks like Mason is giving Collazo a chance to win the weekday starting job, but he too hasn’t succeeded in the role. Here is his line in his two starts this year: 0-0, 7.2 IP, 10 H, 6 ER, 6 SO, 8 BB
  • Control issues: of the 15 pitchers to throw for Tech this year…
    • Seven of them have as many or more walks then strikeouts
    • Nine of them average more than .5 walks every inning
    • Nine of them have thrown a wild pitch, but for six of them it seems to be a rare occurrence. Keselica, McIntyre and Tulley though, have three each.

     

  • On the mound, the Hokies average .75 strikeouts every inning and issue .63 walks per every strike out. Comparatively, on offense, Tech strikes out just about as frequently as it draws walk (109 walks, 108 strike outs).
  • While Luke Scherzer shouldn’t be classified as the team’s closer, he is definitely a late inning guy. He has closed out every game he’s appeared in and has only pitched more than 2.2 innings once (3.1 IP on March 11 vs. Richmond).

 Here is the link to Tech’s stats updated after Wednesday’s game: http://www.hokiesports.com/baseball/stats/2014/?season

This is the transcript from my conversation postgame with head coach Pat Mason. Here is Mason…

On receiving that kind of stellar pitching performance from the bullpen…

That’s great. I mean, that’s really building off of what we did this weekend, our bullpen going 14 innings, one run this weekend. I think we went 6.1 today, no runs. So those guys really found themselves this weekend and did the same tonight. It’s great. We need that. I mean obviously we can’t expect that we’re going to score 10, 12, 15 runs a game. We still put up 6 and got a good pitching outing overall collectively.

On whether using 7 relievers was to take advantage of matchups or to keep arms fresh…

It’s both really. As soon as we had to pull Luis early … that wasn’t the plan going in. The plan was for Luis to go deep into the game. Kennedy and Scherzer are really the only ones that I had scripted in trying to make sure they each went an inning, but when we went to the bullpen early then I just tried to predict who was coming up, work the right/left thing. No, JD (Doran) and Andrew (McDonald) need to be part of our bullpen, so that was a perfect opportunity to get those guys in there and try to get some outs out of them.

On decision to leave Collazo in in the third rather than going to Jon Woodcock who was warming up…

(Woodcock) wasn’t ready yet. He was ready after the second strikeout and then obviously I think, yeah, you get tempted right. You start to say, ‘OK. Maybe (Collazo’s) back in.’ You’re going to give up a hit. If you face seven guys in an inning you’re bound to give up a hit, that’s just baseball. I think once he’s back in the zone and got those two big strikeouts I think he deserved a chance to try and pitch his way out of it.

On whether scoring 5 in the first and only 1 after that is cause to worry…

That’s fine. We’ve been swinging it so well for probably seven or eight straight games that that hasn’t been an issue. Coming out the way we did, I will say this: we need to go out and start collecting outs. Because now we go out and we walk three guys, (give up a) double. We start lulling each other to sleep with that type of pitching performance. I think that played a little factor, and those guys got a little confidence and thought like they could win the game. That kid settled in. But it’s not a worry, no. Not after the way I’ve seen our guys swing it consistently for the past couple weeks.

On the absence of Saige Jenco (CF) and Matt Dauby (SS)

A little injury for both those guys. Nicked up a little bit. Saige has a shoulder, Matty has a hamstring. Must-win, conference tournament, regional game, those guys are in there today, but I thought it was a good opportunity to give those guys a little rest.

On whether or not they’ll be ready for the weekend series at Notre Dame

Yup. Yup. They’ll both be good to go.

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