Photo courtesy of Dallas Baptist University athletics
Gavin Fritz will make his West Virginia Miners debut today when they take on the Jamestown Jammers in Jamestown, N.Y. The Jammers lead the Prospect League’s East Division by two games over Chillicothe and 2 1/2 over the Miners. First pitch is set for 10:05 a.m.
The West Virginia Miners are running through a bit of an inconsistent streak. But one area manager Tim Epling remains confident in is the pitching staff.
Pitching has always been the Miners’ calling card. Today, the rich get richer.
Gavin Fritz will make his debut today when West Virginia (10-7) visits East Division-leading Jamestown for the start of a two-game series. It will be a businessman’s special at Russell Diethrick Park, with first pitch set for 10:05 a.m.
Fritz is the last of three Dallas Baptist players on the West Virginia roster, joining redshirt freshmen Cal Hernandez and Hunter Vansau. He was a freshman with the Patriots who made some key appearances along their way to hosting an NCAA regional for the first time ever.
He finished the season with a 4-1 record and 4.23 earned run average. His biggest win was his last, when he started against current College World Series participant TCU and was the winning pitcher in DBU’s 6-4 victory. Fritz threw three innings of no-hit ball, striking out two and walking one.
Epling said Fritz will be groomed in the same fashion as another former Dallas Baptist hurler in Jake Johansen. All he did was get drafted in the second round by the Washington Nationals.
“We’ll run him out there as a starter and try to build up his pitch count,” said Epling, adding that Fritz will be on a 60-75-pitch limit tonight. “One of the things we will try is to go like we did with Jake and get his miles per hour up by the end of the year. Hopefully we will be able to see him stabilize his (velocity) in a certain matter of time.”
The Miners will be looking to narrow the gap in the East. The Jammers (12-4) lead the division by two games over Chillicothe and 2 1/2 over West Virginia.
Epling said he has been happy with the pitching and the offense. The Miners are hitting just .249 as a team but have two players in the top five in batting average — center fielder Dylan Harvey (second, .407) and Justin Paul (fourth, .375).
The defense, on the other hand, hasn’t performed at the level Epling is accustomed. The Miners committed five errors in Saturday’s loss at Richmond.
Epling said measures have been taken to ensure improvement.
“We have had some practice sessions to help with our mental approach,” he said. “That mental approach helps us because of our youth.”
Both games in Jamestown can be heard on 560 WJLS-AM and online at wjlsam.com with Garry Griffith on the call.
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Paul was named the Prospect League’s Player of the Week after a monster week. The right-fielder went 12 for 21 (.571) with two doubles and five runs batted in over five games.
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