What a game of one-upsmanship in San Diego. A week ago, Toreros freshman righthander Kyle Blair set a school record with 16 strikeouts in a game, and USD pitching coach Eric Valenzuela sent me a text message that jokingly said that junior lefty Brian Matusz was jealous. Less than a week later, Matusz tied that mark with 16 strikeout game of his own against Harvard. Then, on Monday, junior lefthander Josh Romanski turned in his own gem, throwing a no-hitter against the Crimson.
"They’re a very competitive bunch," Valenzuela said yesterday of his star-studded pitching staff. "All those guys are pretty good, and they all compete with each other."
Romanski struck out eight and walked none, and only a hit batsman in the fifth inning spoiled his perfect game. As with most no-hitters, there was one sparkling defensive play that preserved it in the late innings. In the seventh inning, USD shortstop Sean Nicol made a terrific diving stop on a grounder in the hole, then stood up and fired to first just in time to get the runner. A grateful Romanski hit a solo homer in the bottom of the frame to give the Toreros their final run in the 12-0 victory. He then mowed down the Crimson in the final two innings.
"It was pretty awesome to watch," Valenzuela said. "I was nervous calling those pitches in the ninth."
San Diego’s first no-hitter in 12 years improved Romanski to 4-0, 4.37 on the year. He entered the game with a 5.88 ERA through 26 innings. Valenzuela said a mechanical adjustment helped Romanski return to the form that helped him go 9-1, 3.05 as a sophomore.
"His velocity had been down, we thought that it was more of a conditioning thing, because he was playing center field and pitching, but we made an adjustment with his windup," Valenzuela said. "He was kind of pausing at his balance point instead of being all fluid in one motion. He was pausing then starting again. So Thursday in his bullpen, we had him go all the way through and not pause at that balance point, and he gained an easy four miles an hour, easily. Once we figured that out, all his pitches were working."
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