Junior righthanded pitcher Matt Harvey had one of the best performances on the mound of the Fall World Series on Sunday. He was able to command his fastball and mix in effective curve balls in limiting the Blue team to two earned runs over 5.2-innings
"Amazing - that is the only way to describe it," junior Greg Holt said of Harvey's performance. "It was awesome to see him go out there and show up like he did. He had command of the ball with all three pitches and located his fastball - which is big for him. He is going to be good and it was good to see him come out."
Head coach Mike Fox observed, "[Harvey] had command of his fastball and threw some really good breaking balls; he didn't throw a lot of changeups today mostly fastball/curveball today. I was surprised that he did not throw his changeup but I think he was trying to work on his fastball location and threw a lot of first-pitch strikes and obviously that was the key. I thought Matt was good today."
As stellar as Harvey looked on the mound, his opposing starter, junior righthander Patrick Johnson, struggled with his command and served up a myriad of meatballs to the White squad. "We just tried to stay relaxed and guys were getting good pitches to hit putting good swings on balls," Holt said. "P.J. made a couple mistakes to us, but we took advantage of it. Off of a good pitcher like P.J. you have to take advantage of his mistakes."
Fox added, "Patrick could not locate his fastball today, which was his downfall. He missed in several times - he missed in on the home run to Holt. Really being out there behind the mound [as the field umpire today] really gives me a good look of seeing what the catcher is calling and seeing if he can hit the spot. He could not locate his fastball to where he needed to and his breaking ball was just okay today and the other team took advantage of it."
Despite Sunday's poor performance, Johnson remains projected as a weekend starter next spring along with Harvey and Colin Bates.
The Bullpen Catcher Takes the Field
With the White team holding a commanding lead in the seventh inning, bullpen catcher Chase Jones was sent out to pinch hit for Mike Cavasinni, which elicited a loud response from the players and fans on hand. "Chase is a good friend of mine - he deserves anything he has gotten," Holt said. "Unfortunately he was not able to get a hit and was hit with a pitch but it is good to see him out there. He works hard and puts his time in the bullpen and is here longer than anyone else. It was good to see him go out there and get recognized for it. It was good to hear [the applause] because everybody up there knows how hard he works and how he does everything the right way."
Fox explained, "We decided this year to put Chase Jones on a team. In the past he has been the bullpen catcher for both teams but I thought this year it might be important just to put him on one team so he really can feel like part of that team. You know as it turns out he was on the winning team and they were ahead so they got to put him in. I am sure that was special for him."
The Diamond Heels have two proven multi-dimensional players so far with catcher/pitcher Jacob Stallings and infielder/pitcher Greg Holt, in addition to potential two way players in pitcher/outfielder Cody Stiles and first baseman Tarron Robinson (who converted from pitching in high school).
Holt seems to have put last season's struggle with the bat behind him, though perhaps a more prominent role beckons for the junior from Clemmons, N.C. who earned two saves in the Fall World Series. "The emphasis for us probably this spring will be on the mound for us," Fox said of Holt's role. "We have been more impressed with him because we put our emphasis on it and I think if he focuses more on his pitching I think it will help him offensively some - sometimes he tries too hard and wants to do so well."
Holt has had to change his training routine to prepare his arm for the stress and strain of a long season. "It is really not that much different than how we prepare - it is more the throwing," Holt said. "So I don't take infield any more and I throw with the pitchers. So it kind of keeps a balance where if I do have to play a position then I can still throw but I am still working out like a pitcher."
The need for getting high level two-way talent is now even more important to the future of the Diamond Heels, as the NCAA mandated a 35-man final roster along with changing the minimum scholarship percentage to 25 percent.
"Two-way players have always been important," Fox said. "They are important when you start traveling and setting the travel roster and they are even more important now that we have a roster limit. The more roles you can get out of guys, it is like having two players in one. If you have a couple of them and they can do two things for you - you can pitch them and hit them- it is like taking four extra players on the road. It is something that we will look at down the road with recruiting as well."
The Diamond Heels may play a sixth Fall World Series game even though the series has been won by the White squad. The final determination has not been made at this time – check the Diamond Heels Forum for updates.