Friday, May 1, 2009

Commanding attention

by Barca Blog - After a few tough outings earlier in the season, sophomore closer Russell Brewer has regained the command of his pitches that allowed him to flourish during his freshman campaign.

The Norwood, N.C., native has been nearly untouchable in his last six appearances for the Commodores, allowing only three hits while striking out 14 and walking two in eight innings of shut-out baseball.

“I just remained confident in myself and in my pitches,” Brewer said. “I have the same stuff that I had earlier in the year, I just think I had some bad luck. The key thing is to go out there and stay confident by pounding the strike zone. I am throwing more strikes and getting ahead of hitters, while earlier in the season I was probably trying to pick at hitters instead of going right at them.”

Brewer’s ERA had jumped to 5.19 in late-March after he allowed four runs in two innings in a midweek start against Austin Peay. He’s lowered it down to 2.79 by only surrendering one run in the last month.

“At the beginning of the year, Russell ran into some tough luck and that may have sent him sideways a little bit but he never showed it mentally,” head coach Tim Corbin commented. “He’s been very consistent the last two weeks. He’s thrown a lot more strikes and when a pitcher throws more strikes, more confidence comes along with that.”

Last Wednesday, Brewer kept Louisville in check, striking out three in 1.2 innings of hitless relief to pick up his first win of the year. He also collected his third save against Mississippi State Sunday when he struck out the lone batter he faced in Vanderbilt's 8-6 victory.

Brewer was a pleasant surprise for the 'Dores in 2008 after being converted from an infielder to a pitcher. He went on to display the most consistent arm out of the bullpen, leading the team with eight saves while going 4-3 with a 3.52 ERA. Even more impressive was his control of the plate as he struck out 52 and only walked 10 in 46 innings.

With Brewer back to his old form and the addition of freshman flame-thrower Sonny Gray, Corbin has multiple options to throw at opponents in the later innings when the game is on the line.

“Russell’s one of those guys who has experience in the closer role,” Corbin added. “He is an older guy and he has been there before so I think we are in a position right now where we have two pretty good guys to use at the end of the game.

“It comes down to who can finish the game at the point we need them too. I don’t think we really have that closer tag on anyone. You don’t always know how your pitchers are going to feel and right now Brewer is our best guy.”

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