OMAHA, Neb. — The yips can strike anytime and anywhere, and when they do, they can derail the best of teams.
Jared Poché came down with a bad case of them Sunday against TCU. It started as one of the best outings of his career and finished as one of his worst. And the troubles all began with a routine play.
The LSU pitcher had retired the first nine batters he faced. He struck out the side in the first inning, the first pitcher to do that in the CWS since 2011.
The fourth inning began innocently enough. TCU leadoff man Cody Jones sent a soft dribbler back to Poché. He picked it up with plenty of time and lobbed the throw to Chris Chinea at first.
Poché missed his mark badly though. The throw ended up deep in foul territory and Jones made it all the way to third.
Poché had a chance to redeem himself on the very next play. TCU 1B Jeremie Fagnan hit a ball nearly identical to Jones’ from the previous at-bat. The result was the same. Poché picked it up and lobbed the throw out of Chinea’s reach allowing a run to score.
“After that first one, I tried to flush it,” Poché said. “I didn't want to let the first one impact the second one. It was just two plays I should have made. And that's my fault.”
Poché hadn’t committed an error since the second week of the season. That stretch included several plays identical to the ones he didn’t make Sunday.
Pitchers have a few different options in those situations. They can toss it underhand to the first baseman if they’re close enough or they can fire it in there. Poché chose neither option, and that seemed to be where the trouble came from.
“It was just a reaction play,” he said. “I’m not sure why I lobbed it like that, but if I do it again I would set my feet and hit him in his chest.”
Poché’s game came crashing down after those two errors. They led to a pair of unearned runs in that inning, and TCU got four more in the next before chasing Poché from the game.
After a pop fly to start the fifth, Poché walked two of the next three batters he faced and the other got a hit. Poché didn’t seem like himself after the errors, but Paul Mainieri decided to stick with him.
“I thought Jared still had enough,” Mainieri said. “I wanted to get through those first four spots in the order where it was [Poché] against the three lefthanders. Didn’t work out well.”
No it did not. The leadoff man Jones reached on an error to bring in a run, and Poché hit the next batter to bring in another. The last batter he faced got a two-run single against him, and he exited after allowing six runs on only four hits.
And it all started with the yips.
“I’ve seen this happen before with baseball players,” Mainieri said. “It’s amazing that a kid can pitch so well, but then when has to make a throw like that, and it becomes more psychological than anything else.”
Jared Poché's errors cost LSU in CWS opener
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