Schaenzer Shining in Starting Spot
When Nick Mingione arrived as the new head baseball coach at Kentucky, he wanted to ensure that every player was given a chance to compete. Mingione did not slot players into particular roles until he and his staff had a chance to evaluate each player individually.
“When we approached this team, it didn’t matter what you had done in the past,” Mingione said. “We were evaluating everyone in every single role.”
One player who stood out was junior Brad Schaenzer, who earned his second straight mid-week victory on Tuesday night, blanking Wright State for six innings in a 15-1 win at Cliff Hagan Stadium. Schaenzer allowed no runs, just three hits and one walk, while striking out eight against a Wright State team that has beaten Clemson (twice) and South Carolina this season.
“As the weeks were going by, you just keep sitting there and here (Schaenzer) is with this many more strikeouts, having guys taking funny swings at his pitches, it got to the point this spring where we said hey, let’s treat this guy as a starter,” Mingione said. “We gave everybody a fair shot and Brad is certainly one of those guys who has emerged.”
In Tuesday’s game, Wright State only had one serious scoring threat against the junior lefty, and it came in the fourth inning when the Raiders had runners on second and third. But Schaenzer struck out Wright State’s Adrian Marquez to leave a pair of runners in scoring position.
Schaenzer, a junior left-hander from Oxford, Michigan, has now pitched 15 and two-thirds innings on the season. He has yet to give up a run, and has allowed just seven hits and three walks, with 18 strikeouts. His game plan is working so far this in 2017.
“(My plan is to) come out and attack this year,” he said. “I’m trying to keep it all in. I just go in and do my job.”
Schaenzer knows that pitch location is making a huge difference for him.
“My main goal is to keep the ball down,” he said after Tuesday’s win. “My curve ball, I’ve been able to throw it for strikes lately and I’m keeping that down.”
Last season, Schaenzer made 11 appearances, all in relief, pitching 10 and one-third innings and posting an 0-1 record with a 6.10 ERA. He gave up 14 hits and walked seven while striking out 13. As a freshman in 2015, the lefty appeared in 14 games, including one start, with a 1-0 record and a 4.50 ERA. He pitched 24 innings, giving up 24 hits and eight walks while striking out 18.
His first four appearances this season were out of the bullpen. He pitched four and two-thirds innings in relief, allowing no runs, no hits and no walks while striking out five.
“In our scrimmages, he was a guy who pounded the strike zone,” Mingione said of his lefty. “And when you have a pitcher who does that and can throw multiple pitches for a strike, it makes it really hard on an offense. He’s challenging the bottom of the strike zone and it’s hard to elevate the ball against him.”
Schaenzer has answered the call to be the mid-week starter for Kentucky. And if he can continue to execute his role, it will be a huge boost for the 2017 Wildcats.