Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Belief, Conviction Key to Power's Pitching Progress

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Belief, Conviction Key to Power's Pitching Progress

Article excerpt

West Virginia Power pitching coach Matt Ford said he had never been a part of what he witnessed last week. No one in the South Atlantic League had, either, for nearly 14 years. The Power's pitching staff had thrown three straight shutouts to sweep a series with the Augusta GreenJackets. It was the fourth three-shutout streak in the SAL since 1960 and the first since the Kannapolis Intimidators pulled off the feat in August 2002.

It also was part of a longer stretch where the Power allowed just five runs over six games. Though the staff dealt with a couple of rough games in its last two, Power coaches saw a growing belief and conviction from their pitchers in recent contests.

West Virginia's pitching staff needed some help from the Power's bats in Wednesday night's 5-4 win over the Charleston RiverDogs at Appalachian Power Park. Mitchell Tolman's walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth was the deciding factor. Seth McGarry got the win in relief after blowing the save in the top of the ninth, allowing one earned run on one hit in one inning, striking out two and walking one.

Starter Mitch Keller went 4 2/3 innings for the Power (49-46, 14- 12 second half), allowing three runs (two earned) on seven hits with four strikeouts and a walk.

Those qualities - belief, conviction, plus some grit - are as important to effective pitching as any mechanics or speed, Power manager Brian Esposito said.

"Stuff is one thing, Esposito said. "To back your stuff up with some grit, some fight, some conviction and intent behind what you have is more important than what your stuff looks like. There are a lot of guys at this level that have really good stuff, but might not have the mentality that matches it.

So the Power teaches that mentality, and Esposito said it can be hard to learn at any level of baseball, from the rookie leagues to the majors. The proper mentality provides the right base to teach everything else.

Esposito credits Ford for developing the right frame of mind among West Virginia's pitchers. …

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