Today's win not only extends the Bearcat winning streak to three games and pushes the Bearcats Big East record back to the 500-mark (7-7), 23-15 overall, but it also marked the first in Osterbrock's young career. The milestone for Osterbrock comes just one day after fellow freshman hurler, Steve Blevins, tied the school record for wins in a season by a freshman. Stoic in his response, you could tell the jubilation to have reached the early highlight of his young career.
"It feels really good," said Osterbrock about his first win since leaving Colerain high school for UC. "It is like having a monkey off your back. Hopefully, this will be the first in a long line of wins for me during my career."
If he is able to spot the ball he was today, that wish of Osterbrock will most likely come true.
Osterbrock, a freshman southpaw from Colerain, dominated as much as one possibly could in an outing where he did not seem to overwhelm a single batter. Despite striking out just one hitter during the baseball portion of UC's campus-wide Super Saturday event, Osterbrock was in complete command from the opening pitch of game two of the first-ever series between the Hoyas and Bearcats. Scattering just five hits in seven innings of work (98 pitches), the baseball version of the "Big O" (an allusion to his towering 6-4 frame) managed to hold a struggling GU lineup to just two runs on an afternoon that saw Bearcat balls jump off the aluminum of their bats.
As every pitcher should, Osterbrock gave much of the credit to both his offense and defense, which really helped in today's victory.
"When your teammates give you a lead to work with it makes it a lot easier for you as a pitcher because you do not have that pressure of having to win the game on your own," said Osterbrock about his offense that gave his a 16-run cushion to work with after falling behind, 1-0 after the first inning. After starting sluggishly, the Bearcat bats exploded for all 18 runs in a five-inning stretch between innings three and seven, including eight runs during the bottom-half of the fifth inning that accounted for much of the two and a half hour game time.
For the game, each of the nine starters in the Bearcat lineup finished with at least one hit and one run on the game, while every single hitter reached base at least twice and seven of those players had at least two runs scored. LaFringe Hayes reached base each of his five times at the plate, going 5-for-5 at the plate and earning three free passes. Logan Parker smashed a game-high six RBI, four of which came off his grand slam (8) in the fifth inning, and reached base four times. Jon DeLuca and Brian Szarmach each crossed home plate three times for the ‘Cats.
While the confidence his offense gave him was great, the speed and defensive prowess for the ‘Cats helped put the youngster equally at ease on the mound.
"This is a big park and knowing you have guys like LaFringe [Hayes] out there that can run down just about everything gives you a lot of confidence on the mound. You know you can pretty much just throw strikes and make quality pitches and your defense is going to be there to back you up."
Players such as Hayes, Yeager, DeLuca, Mark Muscenti and the corner outfielders of Szarmach and Josh Harrison, who each had outfield assists to cut down potential scoring chances at the plate, makes things that much easier for a pitcher who has struggled with control at times this season.
"Knowing you have a solid defense behind you allow you to throw strikes and not worry about a lot else out there."
While Osterbrock noted the ease by which he was able to operate because of his team's defensive prowess, Parker, who is noted more for his bat then his glove, was quick to note how much easier his and his fellow fielder's jobs become when a pitcher throws strikes.
"When your pitcher is in their throwing strikes it helps us to stay on our toes and be in a great position to make plays defensively," said the Bearcats lumbering first baseman. "Knowing that your pitcher is going to throw strikes and keep the game moving keeps us in the game. Dan did a great job of throwing strikes and getting himself out of situations because he was able to do that."
Osterbrock was able to simply "throw pitches" due in large part to his ability to stay in the strike zone and force hitters to work from behind in the count all afternoon, something the youngster has struggled with during the early part of his young career. Coming into today's start the youngster had surrendered 14 walks in just 24.1 innings of work on the young season. While the number is not as glaring as some other members of the Bearcats staff, the number is further accentuated by the fact that he has often fallen behind hitters and has been forced to throw strikes in hitters counts, helping to lead to his .276 batting average against and his 7.03 ERA. His showing today helped get those numbers down to .262 and 6.03 respectively.
The win by UC's game two starter must give much hope to a Bearcat team who has been searching for a starter to replace the injured Glen Simon, who recently left the squad. While the Hoyas have struggled in their pursuit of runs all season long, managing to score just about three runs per outing this season, most prognosticators would have predicted tonight's game to be the best chance for them to still a game from UC. With Blevins and Kyle Rapp anchoring the Friday and Sunday portions of the rotation, there has been a relative inconsistency from the midweek and second starters from the Bearcat hurlers in recent weeks. If the Bearcats are able to conserve arms and get solid outing and quality starters from players such as Osterbrock regularly the potency of the Bearcat lineup would be exacerbated that much more so.
The Bearcats will look to take game three of the series from Georgetown (which would be their second-ever Big East series sweep) tomorrow afternoon at 1 pm.