A few touted freshman pitchers were strong in their first collegiate starts Tuesday. Texas righthander Brandon Workman, the 13th-ranked prospect in the freshman class, struck out 11 while walking one and allowing two earned runs on six hits over six innings in a 10-3 win against Texas-Pan American. Cal State Fullerton righty Daniel Renken allowed just one hit over four shutout innings while striking out four and walking none in a 4-0 win against Loyola Marymount.
And the No. 1 freshman in the nation, North Carolina righthander Matt Harvey, pitched very well in a no-decision even though the Tar Heels wound up losing to Old Dominion 8-6 in 10 innings. I went down to the USA Baseball training facility in Cary, N.C., to see what Harvey could do against a veteran Old Dominion club, and he did not disappoint, allowing just three hits and two walks over 4 2/3 shutout innings while striking out eight. The night started inauspiciously for Harvey, who allowed a triple off the wall to ODU center fielder Jimmy Miles to start the game, but Miles was stranded after Harvey struck out the next two batters and got cleanup hitter Anthony Shawler to ground out harmlessly to shortstop.
He struck out two more in the second, getting David Burns looking on a 91 mph fastball on the outside corner, then freezing Joe Vellegia on a 74 mph curveball over the inside corner. He got another strikeout in the third on an 82 mph changeup, then later recorded two more Ks with his fastball and one with his curve. While Harvey did not show the mid-90s heat he showcased at times in high school, he was able to spot his 88-91 mph fastball well and touched 92-93. He struggled at times to throw his 74-77 curve down in the zone, but he flashed a plus downer breaking ball at times, and his low-80s changeup was effective.
UNC wound up losing a wild back-and-forth affair. The Tar Heels blew a 3-0 lead in the eighth when backup shortstop Ryan Graepel (filling in for Garrett Gore, who is nursing a tweaked hamstring) made consecutive errors on potential double play balls, leading to four ODU runs. UNC answered with two in the bottom of the frame to take a 5-4 lead, but Joe Cipolla’s solo homer with two outs in the ninth against freshman righty Nate Striz forced extra innings. The Monarchs scored three more unearned runs in the 10th, capped by Cipolla’s three-run double to left field when defensive replacement Kendric Burney slipped on the wet grass. Cipolla finished 3-for-6 with six RBIs.
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