Apr 27, 2010

Duke's Pfisterer fizzles Flames

by Jordan LoSasso

 

It’s not hard to fathom that Duke’s starting pitcher Eric Pfisterer was a 15th round draft pick coming out of high school, and one of the Blue Devils top recruits just two years ago.

But, according to Liberty coach Jim Toman, it was surprising Pfisterer was slated to pitch a midweek game against the Flames after being a mainstay in Duke’s weekend rotation. However, Pfisterer struggled against a few ACC opponents this year and was replaced in the weekend rotation.

After dominating Liberty Tuesday, though, and leading the Blue Devils to a 4-1 win over the Flames, Toman suspects Pfisterer might get another shot to pitch on the weekends.

Pfisterer controlled Liberty’s bats with a 90 mph fastball up in the zone, forcing a plethora of fly outs and pop-ups.

“He was (throwing) 87 to 91 (mph), and he threw a lot of fastballs up, and we didn’t do a good job of making him get the fastball down where we can hit it. Not too many hitters can hit a fastball 90 mph up in the zone, above your hands,” Toman said.

The lack of adjustments allowed Pfisterer to pitch eight innings, allowing only three hits and one run.

Liberty (25-11) did not record a hit until a Matt Williams single in the fourth, and its only run came on a wild pitch in the fifth. It was only the third time this year the Flames were held to less than three runs. 

“We need to do a better job and lay off that pitch. We are not going to hit that pitch. If you lay off the high fastball and make him get it down, then we might have a chance,” Toman said. 

Duke’s offense only needed to take advantage of two Liberty errors in the second inning to outscore the Flames.

Blue Devil Ryan MCurdy hit a single and advanced to second on an errant pickoff throw by Liberty starting pitcher Dustin Umberger. He then scored on catcher Nathan Thompson’s throwing error to second base that trickled into the outfield.

Duke (22-16) scored its winning run with a single to left field, after Eric Brady moved to third on Thompson’s error, to go up 2-0.

“I am not sure what happened with the errors. We just didn’t make plays when we needed to, and they capitalized. I can’t really make an excuse for it. We just didn’t play like we needed to, to win,” center fielder Curran Redal, who went 1 for 5 at plate, said. 

Liberty finally showed an offensive spark in the ninth inning. Second baseman P.J. Jimenez and pinch hitter Justin Richardson both singled, but Redal popped up to end the Flames only rally. 

“I knew the guy was throwing firm so I just wanted to get a base hit, and get the next guy up because the middle of our order is very good against righties,” Redal said. “He had good hitting speed so if I could just get the next guy up we could probably accomplish what we were trying to do.” 

Umberger’s 5 and 1/3 innings pitched, four strikeouts and one earned run went to waste with the Flames poor offensive effort.

“Dustin gave us a chance to win,” Toman said. “He deserved a better fate. He pitched pretty well. He pitched better today than his last two outings so that’s encouraging.”

After the weekend sweep of Presbyterian, and with only 16 games to play, the Flames are looking to go at least 11-5 the remainder of the season to be in contention for an at-large bid to the NCAA regional.

“Our guys know exactly what they need to do to have a shot at an at-large bid, and that would be to get to 40 wins,” Toman said. 

 

Contact Jordan LoSasso

 at jlosasso@liberty.edu


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