Plate discipline key for Point Loma series, rest of season
Head coach John Verhoeven talks about plate discipline more than anything. You could say he’s a broken record, but when there are just eight games remaining in a season marred by underachievement from a talented, confident team, the relevant and important things need to be repeated.
Eagles finish disappointing series with Fresno Pacific
The skipper was disappointed in taking just two out of four games in a series against a team he says Biola should have swept.
“The guys that beat us from Fresno shouldn’t have beat us,” Verhoeven said of last week’s series against Fresno Pacific University. “We got shut out 1-0 by a guy who last year wouldn’t have lasted five innings against us.”
That pitcher, senior Derek Benny, had just two wins and a 4.70 ERA in nine outings going into last Thursday’s complete-game shutout of Biola.
“Then in game four, the guy did not throw well … we let him off the hook,” Verhoeven said. “He’d throw two-strike fastballs up by our heads and our hitters were swinging at it or he’d throw a breaking ball in the dirt and our hitters are swinging at it. We’re just lacking discipline.”
Discipline will be key as playoffs approach
Laying off bad pitches is a tough thing to teach. It’s improved through an alternate mindset at the plate, Verhoeven said. But it’s something that this team is going to have to work on if they want to make a push at the third place spot in the Golden State Athletic Conference, which in all likelihood would guarantee an automatic bid for the squad in NAIA Regionals.
“It’s really hard to work on [plate discipline] because you’ve got adrenaline going in games that you don’t have in practice. They’re trying almost too hard to make contact,” Verhoeven said. “All you can do is talk about or have batting practice pitchers throw balls up high and not swing at it.
“Discipline comes from going up [to the plate] with a purpose in mind, knowing that, ‘Hey, I’m not going to swing at balls out of the zone and I’m going to be selective.’”
Today’s game in San Diego against Point Loma Nazarene University starts the first of two four-game series remaining in conference play, the last four of which will match San Diego Christian College up against the Eagles.
“We’ve got our work cut out for us to take three out of four from them,” Verhoeven said of Point Loma, whose number one and two starters have sub-four ERAs and have combined for half of the team’s wins.
Sutherland continues to tear it up offensively
Junior center fielder Benji Sutherland, though, has been a bright spot for the Eagles offensively. He’s been a spark plug in the leadoff spot, batting .359 with 10 RBIs in his last 10 games.
To complement Sutherland’s speed, Verhoeven inserted sophomore shortstop Johnny Farrington into the two-spot in the lineup.
“I knew he’s capable of doing the little things that can get the runner over to second,” Verhoeven said of Farrington, liking him in the two-spot more than sophomore outfielder Michael Annunziata.
Though Annunziata is batting .328 on the season, good enough for second on the team, Farrington’s capabilities to bunt, run and take pitches, Verhoeven said, made the case for the swap.
Farrington is batting .363 since the switch.