Reigning Big 10 Pitcher of the Yr. Looks To Right Buckeyes
Chris Webb of Buckeyestatebaseball.com is a new contributor to Collegebaseball360.com. He was at Friday’s 7-1 Ohio State win over Indiana to see OSU’s Alex Wimmers strike out 14 Hoosiers. Here are his thoughts.
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Columbus, OH– Have you ever shared a hug with a longtime but forgotten friend that just felt right? That felt like for one small moment you were exactly where you needed to be, at exactly the right time?
Today I welcomed home Division I Ohio college baseball.
While I have seen a handful of games this season, wrote about hundreds of others, a certain feeling wasn’t there. Tonight that feeling returned. Led by Alex Wimmers dominating performance over Indiana, Ohio State showed the promised that had them being touted as a potential Omaha-bound team.
This was the team those who bleed Scarlet & Gray hoped and looked for. This was the team leading the way to another great spring of collegiate baseball in Ohio. Finally it felt like Ohio DI baseball is right where it should be.
Buckeyes Cruise in Showdown of Champions
Columbus- Few things in life ultimately live up to it’s hype. That trip to Myrtle Beach? Yeah you’re on vacation one of the 11 days of the year it rains. The bike you bought yourself as a New Year’s resolution to get in shape? It’s still sitting in the garage corner waiting to be rode. For whatever reason, things rarely turn out how you think, hope, and expect them to be.
Alex Wimmers is proving to be an exception of expectations.
Nothing was as hyped up as the right-handed pitcher Wimmers entering the 2010 collegiate baseball season here in Ohio. The Cape Cod League’s #3 prospect, a Preseason All-American, a projected first-round draft pick, the makings where there, regardless of performance, to fail to meet what was expected of the Buckeye ace. Midway through the season Wimmers has not only met all expectations, he’s exceeding them.
With his first start from the Bill Davis mound this season, Wimmers made sure the cost of attendance was merited for the Scarlet and Gray faithful who braved a stiff wind and temperatures falling into the 40s to support the home team. Assuming one is sane and realizes a 14-strikeout, complete game effort in which he scattered six hits yielding just one run is worth the $5 or $10. Especially when the game features the reigning conference champions and tournament champions, with two teams coming off of Regional showings sharing the field.
While weather may have played a role in limiting the crowd to just 1,269 in attendance, the Hoosier bats needed no thermometer to find out why their bats were ice cold.
After outbursts of 26 and 12 runs in their previous two games, Indiana came into the contest as Wimmers toughest test to date. A leadoff double on a green-lighted 3-0 count, followed by a second-consecutive 3-0 count to the next batter, made it appear that the night was going to be long and un-Wimmerseque. The remainer of the inning showed it would be wise to doubt the All-American.
The 3-0 count quickly turned into the first of many strikeouts, a mere three pitchers later. Then facing the two most dangerous left-handed hitters in the Big Ten in Jerrud Sabourin and Alex Dickerson, strikeout victims two and three were rung up. Sabourin who entered with a .480 average saw the number fall to .466 with a 1-for-4 effort, while Dickerson who entered with a .444 clip and 21-game hitting streak, finished 0-for-4, losing .28 points on his average.
After sending two of the most prolific hitters in the conference down swining, the thought went from an off-night to, lights out night.
“Once he settled down, ther’s no doubt he made it tough on Indiana’s hitters tonight” Coach Bob Todd stated afterwards.
No doubt at all.
In the complete game, Wimmers threw 85 of his 121 pitches for strikes. 12 of the 14 strikeouts were swings-and-misses. While 21 balls were put in play, 28 pitches were swung on and missed by the Hoosiers. After a first inning in which 10 pitches were for balls, over the next six innings, only 11 pitches were balls.
“When he’s on the mound I don’t need a glove in the field” left-fielder Zach Hurley joked after another Wimmers gem. “I think maybe one or two balls all season have come my way.”
It was Hurley who put the Buckeyes out in front, doing enough himself to leave the game to Wimmers. The Buckeye leadoff hitter went 3-for-4 on the evening, drawing a walk, and driving in a run. Hurley also scored the games first run, coming around from first after a leadoff infield single, on a Cory Kovanda double.
“I take pride in being the leadoff hitter. Just trying to get a hit every single time. I’m the first up to represent or offense every game and I just look to get things going with a bang” the senior outfielder who turned down a professional contract from the Florida Marlins added.
For nearly the entire game it appeared Hurley’s run would stand as the only support Wimmers needed.
“He had all three pitches tonight. He was able to keep hitters off balance with the curveball and change-up… When you have a guy like Alex Wimmers, who is an awfully good pitcher, having all three pitches going for him it’s going to be an awful night for hitters” Todd the reigning Big Ten Coach of the Year added.
With nearly a dozen scouts on hand, Wimmers showed why he is a highly-coveted prospect, but a few other Buckeyes would also make a lasting impression on Major League brass.
Providing all of the insurance Wimmers would need, in the bottom of the fourth, a first-pitch, opposite field leadoff
home run over the right-field wall for center-fielder Michael Stephens made it a 2-0 game. Stephens, the clean-up hitter, joined Hurley and Kovanda as Buckeyes with multi-hit games, carrying the Ohio State offense.
“You gotta play loose. If you play tight that’s when you make start to make errors. The biggest thing for me is to go out there and have fun. If a team likes you, they’ll take a shot on you, if not you go out there and just enjoy it. For us as seniors, it’s our last year going out in front of Bill Davis and the crowd.” Stephens stated deflecting any additional pressure after a 2-for-4, two run effort, home run, and double effort.
“Mentally, you have t be sharp every game, whether 100 scouts, or no scouts, you have to play the same every game.” Stephens added.
If the performance Wimmers showed is duplicated game in and game out, the reigning Big Ten Pitcher of the Year is going to need a second trophycase for the hardware headed his way.
“Felt today I could throw any pitch, any count, against any batter” Wimmers said after the victory moved him to 7-0, a mark matched only by 2007 Big Ten Pitcher of the Year Cory Luebke.
“I knew Indiana was a great team coming in. They’re a good fastball-hitting team, and if they weren’t able to lay off my changeup, I’m going to keep going after them until they make an adjustment.”
If the Hoosiers who entered the contest with a .329 team average, the third-best collective average in Big Ten play, what is to expect of Wimmers over the final six weeks?
“I just attack hitters like anyone is the best in the country” Wimmers added.
Expect Wimmers to rise to the occassion with little exception.
Ohio State looks to capture the weekend series tomorrow in hosting Indiana at 1:05 from Bill Davis Stadium. Drew Rucinski will take the mound for Ohio State, opposite Indiana ace Drew Leininger, who enters the contest with a Big Ten leading 1.66 ERA, edging out Wimmers for the top honor after the Buckeye’s one-run complete game lowered his mark to 1.68.
Indiana (14-14, 1-3) @ Ohio State (18-7, 3-1)
Indiana…………. 000 000 010 - 1 6 1
Ohio State………. 100 311 10X - 7 10 2