CARY, N.C.—After James Kaprielian punched out 11 against Notre Dame on Friday and Grant Watson blanked N.C. State on Saturday, there seemed to be very little sophomore righthander Cody Poteet could do to keep up with his UCLA rotation-mates. That seemed especially true when you considered the start to his season: In two starts, Poteet was 0-1 with a 6.43 ERA, had allowed six runs (five earned) on 11 hits in just seven combined innings against Portland and Cal Poly.
Instead, Poteet allowed just two hits (one an untouched fly ball that got misplayed), walked none and fanned 13 in a 5-0 win over the Michigan Wolverines on a warm, sunny afternoon at Coleman Field on the campus of USA Baseball’s National Training Complex. The outing represented career-bests in innings pitched, strikeouts and fewest hits allowed. The 13 punchouts were the most by a Bruin since Trevor Bauer whiffed 14 on June 4, 2011 against Fresno State.
“I’m getting more comfortable as it goes,” Poteet said afterward. “I threw well all January and February and kind of got off-track in my first two starts of the year, but this one I got on track and started feeling like myself.”
Poteet used primarily a well-spotted fastball that sat comfortably between 88-92 mph for most of the game and was steadily hitting 90 in the ninth inning. Thrown at the lower velocities, the pitch bored heavily in on the hands of lefthanders. He complemented the pitch with a changeup and slider—both in the mid-80s—and the slider featured plenty of bite. He also used a loopy curveball that sat in the high-70s. He struggled to command the pitch, however, and used it rarely.
Besides the botched flyball, the only hit Poteet allowed was a fourth-inning single to Kendall Patrick, who got a hanging slider and deposited into left field.
Combined, UCLA’s starters fanned 27 hitters against just three walks in 25 innings during the Irish Classic. The other two frames were worked by Bruins closer David Berg, who recorded saves in each of the first two games.
“We haven’t had the best of starts,” UCLA head coach John Savage said. “I think this weekend was a big opportunity for us to create our identity. We had one last year, clearly. This year we have two new starters in the rotation with Kaprielian and Poteet. They’re very talented guys but inexperienced a little bit at this level. It’s taken them a couple of weeks, and hopefully these outings will help their progression of them getting into who we need them to be.”