A developing trend in pitching rotation management?
VCU’s ace, sophomore right-hander Seth Cutler-Voltz from Henrico High, was persistent about wanting to pitch in the Colonial Athletic Association tournament final despite one day of rest.
Cutler-Voltz threw 108 pitches in a complete game in the Rams’ opening win Thursday. After the Rams won again Friday, Keyes said Cutler-Voltz texted him Friday night, asking when he was going to pitch in the championship round Saturday.
With the Seahawks up 5-0 in the middle of the first game, Cutler-Voltz approached Keyes again. Near the end of a 10-0 loss, Keyes decided Cutler-Voltz would start.
Cutler-Voltz (8-3, 3.20 ERA) gave up five runs – one earned – in four innings. He left trailing 5-1, but VCU rallied for a 7-5 victory in 12 innings.
“I felt like they had so much momentum, we had to throw our best guy out there,” Keyes said. “He said, ‘Coach, I don’t want to know about pitch count. When you don’t think I can get’em out anymore, just let me know and take me out.'”
[LSU pitcher Anthony] Ranaudo, who pitched 7 2/3 innings in winning the opener against Florida, texted Mainieri the night before to say he could pitch in relief if needed. Mainieri was preparing Matty Ott to pitch the ninth after Alabama tied the game at 3 in the eighth. But the second rain delay hit and Mainieri decided to go with his ace, who used the additional time to get ready.
“I’m a competitor; I want the ball,” Ranaudo said. “I told Coach if anything weird happened I’d be available. I’d been preparing the last three days in case something happened.”
Ranaudo didn’t allow a hit but walked two batters in the 10th, one of them reaching third base as the winning run with two outs. But Ranaudo retired Jake Smith on a fly ball to deep right field.
With one out in the 11th, LSU’s Matt Gaudet singled and went to second when Mikie Mahtook was safe on an error with two out. Fury, whom the players call ‘Rudy’, ran for Gaudet before Hanover ripped his third hit past shortstop Josh Rutledge. The former Rummel Raider steamed home and slid in headfirst, well ahead of the throw.
Sunday night, long after Davenport Field had cleared and the reality set in for Virginia that it would need to win an elimination game the next day to keep its season alive, Cavaliers coach Brian O’Connor sent a text message to Kevin Arico, his junior closer.
“I just told him, ‘hey, you’re our guy, and you need to be ready at any point for an extended outing,’” O’Connor said. “The plan was that if we got into a difficult situation where the game could potentially be on the line anywhere after the fifth inning, that we were going to come to him.”How’s this for difficult? Virginia was clinging to a three-run lead in the sixth against a St. John’s team that was peskier than anyone anticipated, and Jeremy Baltz was at the plate, the same freshman who hit two home runs on Sunday, including the two-run shot that beat the Cavs in the eighth inning. The bases were loaded. The crowd of 4,801 on hand, though supportive, was nervous.
Arico hadn’t pitched in nine days, meaning he was the freshest arm UVa had available. The situation, understandably, was tense.
“It’s easier to get a little more amped up in that situation,” Arico said.
Two of those runners scored, but Arico avoided disaster. He left the inning with the lead and finished the game, going 3 2/3 innings, the longest outing of his career. The Cavaliers held off the Red Storm, winning 5-3 Monday to advance to the super regionals for the second straight year.