My daughter Alexis took this shot of the new Baseball facility (top right) Saturday before game 2. My own photographer? Big timein' it...
Washington had a good weekend for athletics, and Baseball was no exception, sweeping the 4 game double-double-header over Saint Joseph's in empirical fashion. It was an absolutely beautiful two days for March baseball in the Puget Sound and I don't know about you cave dwellers, but I went outside and threw things at kids. Lil' hellions...its good for 'em, builds character and all that jazz. Oh and chest hair, can't forget that excuse.
And by that I mean we attempted to play catch. Anyway, the Dawgs (9-3) are right in the middle of the PAC twelve games and exactly 100 innings into the 2012 season, and I think its fair to say an identity is forming. The box score and recaps only tell you half the tale; if you want to really know what this team is capable of you have to spend the time and dig a little deeper.
Saturday Baseball Analysis after the jump...
W - A. West 2-0 | 0.53 ERA | 17 IP | 61 AB |11 H | 2 R | 1 ER | 1 BB | 8 K | 1 2B | .180 b/AVG
S - J. Fredendall 0-0, 4 S | 1.42 ERA | 6.1 IP | 22 AB | 3 H | 1 ER | 1 BB | 5 K | 2 2B | .136 b/AVG
The newly minted opening game of the series lasted 1 hour and 18 minutes. Apparently that's how long it takes Ace Aaron West and Closer Joshua Fredendall to throw a 7 inning one-hitter. If not for a hard hit roller that escaped up the middle for the Hawks only hit, we might have seen the first no-hitter for Washington since Timmy was King of the Hill. West didn't land square, otherwise he would have been able to field the ball easily at his feet. Instead he was sideways, helplessly watching his no-no fly past him. His only miscue in an otherwise flawless performance.
West worked fast, getting ahead on almost every batter with excellent command of the inside corner. He continually pounded the inside half, both high and low with 90-93 mph fastballs (on a cool day as well) that the Hawks had no chance of turning on. Add in his secondary stuff which was on point when he used it, and the scouts behind home were given the answers they were seeking.
West appears to have more confidence this year, pitching to his defense and not trying to do it all himself. This explains the pedestrian, for his velocity, 8 K's in 17 innings, yet only giving up ten singles, a double and one run over three starts. Remember "Why take three pitches to get an out when you can use one?" West and the D are executing some masterful pitch-to-contact sequences right now.
With the no-hitter gone West only went 6 IP; I'm assuming a pitch count was at play here. Closer Joshua Fredendall came in to earn his 4th save in as many tries, working the first two batters faced to ground out back to him and set the final batter down swinging. The last pitch to end the game was a beautiful 92 mph fastball that SJU 1B Kevin Taylor could only meekly throw his bat at, and ultimately had no shot at hitting.
Fredendall had good velocity on tape, was in the 90-92 mph range on the gun in person and looks even more powerful, "heavier." He throws a "heavy" ball that will hurt your hands if you make contact, complemented with good movement. Both batters that bounced out meekly back to him were visibly wringing their hands afterwords. He only needs three more saves to surpass the six total saves spread among four Dawgs from 2011. If your not smiling right now you should be.
The Offense scored one run, the other team scored none; way to make West sweat needlessly guys. In the 3rd inning with one out SS Erik Forgione, who's speed once again helps swing a game in our favor, hit a double to left-center batting from left side that would have been a single for most. Speed + pressure + distraction = wild pitch from a rattled pitcher and Forgione is on third base. Ray, who has been the spark for our offense all year, proceeds to calmly poke a ground ball to the right side like your taught, and the second baseman has no shot to get Forgione at home.
I am going to go back and count how many scoring sequences Ray and/or Forgione have started or been a part of. I have a good feeling its going to be something like 80% or more; our lineup is a beast that should always be able to put up runs with either small ball or power. The scariest/best part? This was the first 12 games of Div-1 ball for many on team, including those two.
Forgione appears to be getting the starting nod while Afenir is struggling at the plate to start the year, and if he keeps hitting the ball this way he will keep it. It's hard to keep switch-hitting athletes off the diamond; the Skipper is making a very tough, but ultimately best for the team, decision. Forgione is not making it any easier on his Coach by airmailing easy throws to first base, compounding the situation. He sailed a toss across to first after fielding an easy ground ball on Sunday that extended the inning, and the error came around to score. Afenir makes that play in his sleep.
Coach Meggs has had to make a lot of those decisions this year, and his diplomacy between Washington and California will be tested mightily as the season progresses. Anytime old meets new this happens, and its never easy when the changes start.
Saturday, Series Game 2, UW 9-1 Saint Joseph's
Offensive Factoid: The Dawgs only struck out once in game 2.
W - A. Voth 2-0 | 6 IP | 3 H | 1 ER | 2 BB | 3 K | 1 HBP
The double-double-header was in full Gemini mode this weekend. Pitching dominated the opening contest, and the Dawgs bats ruled the dusk. Not to say our pitching didn't perform well; our offense was befuddled for two of the four games while the pitching only allowed Saint Joseph's 2 runs on 11 hits the entire series. That's one hit every three innings, one run every sixteen innings on average. Note to the equipment manager: whatever they drank, use it again. Every game. Got it? Yes, I am a superstitious baseball player; do we come any other way?
Voth ( ^that guy) came out throwing hard with 88-90, 91 mph a few times showing on the guns. He wasn't going to leave without a win, pitching like a man who smelled blood in the water. He had some shaky command at times with all of pitches but went into cruise control after giving up the one and only run for the Hawks all day in the 3rd. Davis came in for Voth to start the 7th, gave up a single then retired 6 of the next 7 he faced with only a walk to break the chain with two outs in the 8th. Davis still has yet to give up a run in relief, and should take his curveball out for a nice dinner to say thank you.
The 9th belonged to Cimber, who has been pitching well his last few outings. Only difference has been he has more "cut" and movement at the end of his pitches, resulting in more balls being batted off the hands. When his cut fastball and slider are snapping well hitters will swing thinking its a pitch over the plate, only to get sawed off when the pitch cuts in at the last second. If Cimber isn't getting good movement on his pitches he is going to get rocked, with his pitch grade at 0-10° moving straight at the hitter, not a downward angle like a tradition delivery. Cimber lives and dies with the tail cut, but when its on he can be very tough to hit. Think Darren O'Day from the Texas Rangers as the prototype mold. O'Day is one tough cookie to hit when he's on.
Saint Joseph's scored first in the top of the 3rd then disappeared under the onslaught of 13 Dawgs hits and nine runs spread over four innings. This was the first moment of two the Hawks held the lead, but each time it only lasted as long as it took 'em to run back out to the field. Give SJU credit for a couple stolen bases this game and four hits, and...sorry guys, I tried and this is all ya did. The leadoff batter Pater walked, stole second, advanced to third on a ground ball out to Mitsui at first base and scored on a single to center field. Afenir started this game and made the easy play on a ground ball up the middle to end the inning, and it was a half dozen eggs for the Hawks afterwords to go back to the hotel with for dinner.
Mitsui was HBP to lead off the bottom half, a sac-bunt and Afenir ground out later and Ray drives in Mitsuibishi. See, there is Ray again, he's addicted to runs, man. You better guard yours closely when he's around...
The Dawgs continued where they left off in the 4th with a Meggs leadoff single followed by Pehl singling a ding along. Berry didn't have the best weekend at the plate, but he had some solid hits and joined the hit parade here with an RBI single to LF, followed by Lamb blasting a double to left scoring Pehl.
In the 6th frame the Dawgs padded the lead with three runs followed by another three in the 7th. It was 9-1 going into the last two innings yet was over long before. I remember my girls sitting behind me saying the game was taking forever to finish during this stretch, and it did. The Dawgs sent 18 batters to the plate, 9 each inning, scoring 6 runs on 7 hits while stranding 4. Afenir had a RBI single to RF in the 6th, but it was the 7th frame that had the entertainment.
Pehl smells fresh meat, and he brought his club..
From the about the 6th inning on I was sitting on the first base line, front row near the Washington dugout to get a good look and administer some eye tests with the heart of the order due up. When you watch Joe Meggs (pictured above at the plate), who is thick and stocky like his dad, Robert Pehl, Branden Berry, Jacob Lamb and Trevor Mitsui walk by you can't help but ask for a home run at some point. They all made it a point to not look into the stands (no players did, I'm sure its a coaching point to ignore the seats), but after I said it was time to see a HR in WA Berry gave a little smirkish smile, swung his bat one more time and it was his turn.
The wind was blowing in from right and/or center field towards home all day long, severely crippling any chance for a good blast anywhere, maybe the left field line, but eh... on second thought no. Berry got a fastball and he had it 'tatered the whole the way to center-right. If not for the wind we would have had the first Washington HR and he knew it; once he was in safely at second his reaction said it all. Right field is going to be run farm for our power hitters, RH or LH, when the wind cooperates. This time it wasn't, and Berry had to watch the wind smother his HR and send it back inside the yard, still over the center fielders head tho. Most of our big bats have shown the ability to hit the other way with power, and it wont take much to lift one 320' over the RF wall, to be safe.
Mitsui is tall at 6'5", with a broad build carrying 222 lbs. that can add at least another 10-20 lbs. or more and has heir-apparent to Lamb at 3B written all over him. He has the best glove of any starting corner infielder, Lamb included from the very small sample size I have seen so far, and with his height can be one of those 3B that make spectacular snags on hot corner line drives. If he hit the weight room and developed a trunk below to go with his upper body he could have scary power numbers, wood or metal bats. He would work at either corner spot, but next year his glove will be needed at 3B unless something changes in the future.
For now he is stuck in the 1B/DH depth chart with good reason. His bat is good, but he needs work on off speed pitches. Lamb is a power LH bat, and it appears he has finally fixed what was wrong and remembered how to play defense and hit. After that HR a week ago he is a totally different player, and it's great to see from the Senior leader. We desperately need him to do well this year.
Berry went 3-4 with 3 hits including that double and 1 RBI. Lamb went 3-4 including a double and 3 RBI's, a stolen base and scored twice. Glad to have ya back Lamb, I missed you!-signed, the Tim Lincecum jersey in RF.
Sunday Analysis in the afternoon, stay tuned...