HOUSTON—Saturday's final game at the Houston College Classic lasted just one hour, 45 minutes, making it the shortest game in the tournament's history by 25 minutes. Texas A&M sophomore righthander Michael Wacha and Rice freshman righty Austin Kubitza simply pounded the strike zone, and Kubitza was spectacularly efficient in the Owls' 1-0 win.
Kubitza needed just 88 pitches to throw a complete-game shutout of the Aggies, and 66 of those pitches were strikes. He struck out seven and scattered six hits. Not only did he issue zero walks, but he did not even go to a single 2-and-0 count all night.
"I'd look up there, and I don't think I ever remember him throwing a ball, it seemed like," Wacha said of Kubitza. "He was just pumping the strike zone, and that's how you have to do it."
In front of a large crowd in a major league stadium, the freshman Kubitza was not intimidated. Quite the opposite, in fact.
"After our (pregame) prayer huddle, everyone was like, 'Oh, he's scared,' " Kubitza said. "I was like, 'Hey, I'm pitching a shutout, y'all just need to get me a run.' Everything was just there for me, and they scored the run for me I needed."
Kubitza's "everything" consisted of two pitches: an 89-92 mph fastball and a power breaking ball that he called a slider, and Rice coach Wayne Graham insisted was a power curveball. Graham said a scout told him in the fall that Kubitza's fastball has 80 life; it sank and ran so much Saturday that one scouting director on hand mistook it for a changeup, and said it was a very good one.
Kubitza used the sinker to induce 14 groundball outs, including two big ones on a sixth-inning double play. He got some strikeouts with his fastball, but also had success getting the Aggies to chase his breaking ball out of the zone.
"Coach said in the scouting report, a lot of them are free swingers, so if you get it close, they're going to swing," Kubitza said. "It helped me out a lot—I threw a lot of balls, and they swung at them. I was like, if they're going to keep swinging, might as well keep throwing it."
Kubitza had been solid in his first two starts of the season, but his ability to throw his breaking ball wherever he wanted helped him make the jump from solid to stellar on Saturday.
"His fastball sometimes is moving a foot. His curveball was good tonight too—that's what made him so effective," Graham said. "He had a lot of good chase breaking balls, like that last one (to Matt Juengel to end the game). That makes all the difference in the world. It's intimidating, particularly when you've got that sinking stuff running into your fists like that."
Kubitza looks destined to be a 2013 first-round pick at this very early juncture, and Wacha has a strong chance to go in the first round in 2012. Wacha limited the Owls to a run on five hits and a walk over seven innings, while striking out seven. He attacked the zone with a 91-94 mph fastball, a filthy, tumbling changeup in the 81-84 range, an occasional slider and a curveball that served as a show pitch.
"The changeup's been his pitch," Aggies coach Rob Childress said. "He can throw it right-on-right or throw it to the lefties as well."
The Owls scratched out their lone run in the third inning when J.T. Chargois doubled down the right-field line, then scored two batters later on Craig Manuel's sacrifice fly. Other than that, both pitchers repeatedly buckled down with runners on base, and the game raced by.
"That's about as good a pitched game as you're ever going to see," Graham said.
Comments will be monitored prior to being added to the site. Comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be rejected. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed.
We have chosen to open up commenting to everyone, so comment away! We want to hear from each and every one of you! Leave a comment.
About This Blog
Syndicate This Blog
Search This Blog