We were pretty successful this week, finishing the week 3-1 with a victory over Purdue and two over Mississippi State. Even though we won the first two games of the series against Mississippi State, they battled back and beat us 9-8 on Sunday. For the first three games of the week, our pitching was dominant and threw shutouts in each game. Kevin Ziomek began the streak with his start against Purdue, and it continued through Sonny Gray’s start Friday and Grayson Garvin’s on Saturday. Tony Kemp and Anthony Gomez, the two hitters atop our lineup, led us offensively this week. Kemp pushed his hitting streak to five games, whereas Gomez’s streak is at 16 and counting.
Speaking of Anthony Gomez, his Tweet this weekend started a huge debate in the locker room. He Tweeted [sic]: “Who would win an intersquad pitchers vs hitters?? hitters pitching for themself and pitchers hitting and catching for themself”. Great grammar Ant, but anyways this debate has long occurred in our locker room. All of our pitchers think it’s so easy to hit a baseball, and cannot understand why we do not get hits in every at-bat. Yet for some reason they expect themselves to never allow a hit. Hence the reason why you have to have good catchers to straighten these guys out!
Back to the topic, the pitchers always claim that they would beat us in a straight up game, pitchers on one team, and hitters on the other. And as much as I like the pitchers on our team, I feel like as an older player on the team that I must take a stand and tell them they are wrong. The pitchers think they are the supreme athletes on the team because they field bunts and throw hard. But how many times do you see a pitcher make a diving catch in the outfield like Mike Yastrzemski has, or rob a home run like Connor Harrell has, or stretch a double into a triple, like Aaron Westlake did this weekend? Our pitchers are very good at what they do—but the real athletes are on the other side of the ball.
I’m not even going to go into lineups or anything like that. We know that any of us position players could hit when called upon. But the question I’m sure everyone is wondering is “Who would pitch?” Well, there is no need to hide the women and children—we have plenty of pitching. Joe Loftus, aka “Mariano Joevera”, has seen a few innings on the bump for us in recent years. He would get the call to start for us. After Loftus, Regan Flaherty would be first in relief. Regs threw some innings for us in scrimmages last fall, and has a Johan Santana-esque changeup. Andrew Harris would find his way on the mound at some point, and I highly doubt the pitchers could hit his cutter. Also, rumor has it that Bryan Johns pitched an inning this summer in the Prospect League, so he may be called upon to build on that experience. Jason Esposito would be our setup man, and Spencer Navin would close. He has a cannon as a right arm, and there is no way Mark Lamm or any of the other pitchers would touch him.
Speaking of Lamm, he wanted the pitchers to have a say in this, so here is his opinion on the matchup:
First off, let me remind you of what wins championships in baseball… pitching and defense. Let’s take a look at last years College World Series champion (South Carolina) and MLB World Series champion (San Francisco Giants). Both of these teams relied heavily on timely hitting, reliable starting pitching and a shutdown bullpen. Obviously, we have the pitching part taken care of, but what about the defense / hitting aspect of the equation?
In my eyes, this would be our starting lineup.
1. Sonny Gray – SP = small in stature and has the speed to create havoc on the base paths
2. Keenan Kolinsky – RF = bat handler that will let his bulldog personality shine
3. Navery Moore – SS = strongest pitcher on the team with a pure swing to match
4. Jack Armstrong – 1B = known for hitting moon shots in BP and driving in GW RBI’s
5. Grayson Garvin – DH = has a John Olerud hitting approach that will produce a high average
a. DH’ing for T.J. Pecoraro – 2B
6. Will Clinard – 3B = has a solid swing that produces line drives to all fields
7. Mark Lamm – CF = known for having the best pop on the team, yet has many holes in his swing
8. Corey Williams – LF = has a personal vendetta against hitters after last years line drive that ended his season
9. Taylor Hill – C = hiding him in the nine hole so he can eat up fastballs
If you didn’t know, four out of the nine pitchers in the lineup actually came to Vanderbilt with the chance to show off their hitting abilities (Gray, Kolinsky, Armstrong and Clinard). None proved to Coach Corbin that their swings were better than their deliveries, but at least there is some experience here. Going along with the experience thought, all the pitchers are quite athletic and were the heavy hitters of their lineups in high school. Unlike the hitters, our staff has a familiarity with being on the other side of the 60 foot 6 inches, and it will certainly serve us well. All in all, I think it is important to understand that the pitchers in this situation have the upper hand because we have multiple players that can play almost every position. How many position players do you think can actually pitch, much less get us out?
So there you have both sides of the debate. I guess the discussion will continue to rage on forever, because we are a little too occupied with our games to spend time playing each other.
After hosting Tennessee Tech today, we travel to Arkansas for a weekend series with the Razorbacks. They have a great college baseball environment, and it will be three great games.
Until next week—Go ’Dores
1 Corinthians 13: 4-13