STANFORD — If Wednesday’s Bay Area college baseball media day proved anything, it’s that if one hopes to break into the postseason this season, one will have to rely on good pitching.
And a lot of it.
Pitching was the theme of the Stanford-hosted sit-down Wednesday with local participating colleges Stanford, Cal, USF, San Jose State, St. Mary’s and Santa Clara. And surrounding the importance of what transpires on the college mound greatly revolves around the NCAA BBCOR bat standard, which was introduced last year.
“Pitching and defense has got to be the core for what everybody does in college baseball,” USF coach Nino Giarratano said, who fancies a slower game and its intangibles. “With the new bats and the way the offensive production goes down, everyone needs to pitch and play defense. And hopefully, those are two things that we’re going to be able to do.”
Last season, Giarratano saw one of his players’ home run productivity drop to three from 17 the year before the bat change. Less runs translates to a heightened emphasis on position play, defense and pitching. But as longtime Stanford coach Mark Marquess, who is in his 36th year of coaching, put it, it’s a change that all in college dugouts must get used to.
“I think the bats, the change is here to stay,” said Marquess, who is still a skeptic.
He argued that changing offenses’ productivity could be risky in terms of attendance figures. “Let’s face it, the average baseball fan likes runs.
But while many continue to adjust to the new hardware, Cal slugger Tony Renda scoffs at it.
“A bat’s a bat,” he said, almost mockingly. “Yeah, it takes away power numbers, but eventually at some point in the game, you’re going to have to play with wood. You gotta have less weaknesses in your swing.”
But bats aside, local baseball programs Stanford, Cal and USF have all had other things on the mind.
After hearing that their baseball program would be cut last year, Cal, motivated, rallied to an appearance in the College World Series. Giarratano, dealing with his own tragedy, donated a kidney to his ailing father Mickey. And Stanford, though less on the adversity scale, saw the exit of catcher Zach Jones and closer Chris Reed, voids that still remain a mystery as to how they’ll be filled.
“If you’re going to be a dominant team or you wanna get to the postseason,” Marquess said, “then you better have one of your better pitchers in the bullpen.”