Age-Old Baseball Formula Telling

February 24, 2015

It’s hardly a secret formula. Good pitching + good defense goes a long way on the baseball diamond and great pitching + great defense tends to lead to big championships.


Florida’s Dane Dunning fired 5.0 no-hit innings in Sunday’s start against rival Miami (Photo Courtesy Florida).

Case in point – the top four teams in this week’s CB360 Top-50 Rankings. Vanderbilt, Virginia, TCU and Florida, have been stellar on the mound and in the field. Those four teams have combined to go 24-4 and have a total of 22 errors and 18 unearned runs.

The defending national champion Commodores have outscored opponents just 26-22 in their 4-2 start after a 6-0 series-clinching win over Indiana State Sunday, but stellar pitching and defense have (as always) made up for it. The Commodores have just six errors and four unearned runs allowed while also posting a 2.95 ERA.

Virginia (8-0), runner-up to Vandy in Omaha last year, has committed eight errors and allowed six unearned runs while turning in a stealth 1.12 ERA. Virginia has also essentially played a ninth game after Sunday’s 5-4 win over Marist in 18 program record-setting innings.

TCU (6-1), another 2014 CWS team, and Florida (6-1) have been stellar both in the field and on the mound so far. The Horned Frogs (1.45 ERA) have just four errors and four unearned runs charged through seven games. That includes a weekend series win at Arizona State. Florida (2.14 ERA) has just six errors and four unearned runs after taking two of three games against Miami this weekend.

At the other end of the spectrum in the early part of 2015 is Cal Poly. The Mustangs started the season at 28th in our preseason rankings after a 47-12 record and a Big West championship in 2014. They have limped out of the gates to a 1-7 start in 2015 though, and pitching and defense have been the main culprits.

After committing two errors and surrendering four unearned runs in Sunday’s 9-3 loss to Grand Canyon, Poly now has 17 errors and 18 unearned runs allowed in the first two weeks of the season. On top of that, the staff ERA, which finished at 3.05 last year, is currently a hefty 4.95.

Kyle Smith leads Cal Poly with 16 strikeouts in 9 1/3 IP (Photo courtesy Cal Poly).

Kyle Smith leads Cal Poly with 16 strikeouts in 9 1/3 IP (Photo courtesy Cal Poly).

Casey Bloomquist only went 4.0 innings in Poly’s season-opening 8-6 loss at Baylor. He surrendered five total runs on 81 pitches and four hits, but he walked four and yielded two unearned runs thanks to three errors in the field.

Slater Lee lasted just 2.0 innings in another 8-6 loss the next day. Two of the four runs reliever Kyle Smith allowed in his 3.1 innings were unearned. The Mustangs committed three more errors in that setback.

Justin Calomeni needed 63 pitches (just 58% for strikes) to get through 3.0 innings in a demoralizing 6-0 loss to the Bears in the series finale. He did go 6.0 innings against Grand Canyon on Sunday, but two errors led to four unearned runs in the 9-3 defeat.

Andrew Bernstein provided Cal Poly with its first quality start in a midweek win at Fresno State. Bernstein allowed just two hits in 5.1 shutout innings in the 7-6 victory. Two late errors paved the way for four unearned runs to score after the Mustangs led 7-0 going into the bottom of the 8th inning. Poly still out-hit the Bulldogs 16-8 and the pitching staff combined for 10 strikeouts and just three walks.

Bloomquist made it to 6.2 innings against Grand Canyon in his second start this past Friday, but he needed 110 pitches to get there. Three Mustang errors led to two unearned runs allowed by Bloomquist, who fanned nine batters, as well as another unearned run tagged to reliever Erich Uelman in the 10-4 loss.

UCSB's Dillon Tate is yet to allow a run in 13 2/3 IP this season (Photo courtesy UCSB).

UCSB pitcher Dillon Tate is yet to allow a run in 13 2/3 IP this season (Photo courtesy UCSB).

Two other teams whose fortunes correlate directly to defense through the first two weekends have been Indiana and Arizona State.

Indiana committed just two errors in its first two games of the season – a pair of wins at Stanford – before committing eight errors and allowing a total of four unearned runs in consecutive losses to Stanford, Presbyterian and Furman. The spiral was punctuated by five miscues and three unearned runs in Friday’s 5-2 loss to the Blue Hose.

Arizona State struggled holding onto the ball this weekend as well. The Sun Devils had a pair of errors that led to two unearned runs in Friday’s 3-0 loss to visiting TCU. To be fair, Preston Morrison (2-0) was so dominant the miscues were probably moot. Morrison needed just 88 pitches to fire a three-hit complete game.

ASU had three more errors, but just one unearned run allowed, the next day in a 7-6 win. Two errors in Sunday’s series finale gave the Horned Frogs their first two runs.

UC Santa Barbara (6-1) committed just five errors and allowed a mere three unearned runs while getting off to a 6-0 start. The injury bug hit in Sunday’s series finale against Kentucky in a 12-7 Wildcat win (the only Kentucky victory in the series). Three Gaucho errors accounted for seven, yes – seven unearned runs in defeat.

UCSB, which sports a stellar 1.57 team ERA, will put its pitching, defense and strong start to the test with a midweek game at Pepperdine followed by a three-game home series vs. Oregon next weekend.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *