DUNEDIN, Fla.–I left the Seton Hall-Minnesota game after five innings to catch the start of the Notre Dame-Ohio State game here at Dunedin Stadium. Sean Black was in control for the Pirates, allowing just one run through the first five innings, and the Pirates led 4-1 when I left (although I’ve since heard that SHU upped its lead to 11-1). Black didn’t show the mid-90s heat he has flashed in the past, but he did a good job commanding his 88-91 mph fastball that topped out at 92-93 a few times. One scout commented that he has learned to pitch more effectively with his sharp curveball, and his feel for pitching has improved considerably since he arrived at Seton Hall. He also did a great job controlling the Minnesota running game, using a lightning-quick move to first base to pick off two Gopher baserunners.
As impressed as I was with Black, I’ve been blown away by Notre Dame ace Brian Dupra in the earlygoing. Dupra, a sophomore righthander who was a touted recruit out of an upstate New York high school, sat in the 92-94 mph range and used a nasty 79-80 mph slider to get two strikeouts in the first inning. Earlier in the offseason, the Irish had indicated they planned to use Dupra as a closer, but I’d say sliding him into the Friday starter spot was a wise decision.
Ohio State righty Alex Wimmers has been superb in his own right, using a high-80s fastball, low-70s breaking ball and especially an excellent 72-74 mph changeup to rack up four strikeouts in the first two innings. Wimmers did allow a double down the left-field line to All-America center fielder A.J. Pollock in the first (as Pollock showed off his quick wrists by getting out ahead of an offspeed pitch away and yanking it down the line), but he struck out the other three batters he faced in the inning.
This is shaping up to be a fine pitching matchup. One thing that has struck me so far today is that the biggest stars in this event have all mostly lived up to their billing. I’m eager to see what else Pollock can do this weekend–he’s one of the nation’s best all-around players.
We’re scoreless in the top of the third inning.