While Dallas Baptist’s bats get a lot of the attention, their pitching is equally stout featuring an All-American arm up top and a stellar All-Conference level bullpen to back him up. As a unit, Dallas Baptist has a 4.24 team ERA which was good enough for tops in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) and 54th nationally (for comparison ODU was 52nd). The staff is also experienced featuring nine pitchers who saw more than 25 innings this season and of those six are upperclassmen. They’re also no strangers to postseason action with four of the DBU pitchers having NCAA Regional experience prior to this season.
In what figures to be one of the best pitching matchups of the Super Regionals, the Patriots are led by ace Dominic Hamel on Fridays (Saturday for the Super Regional). Before being named Third Team All-American by Collegiate Baseball, Hamel racked up a school record 129 strike outs on his way to a 13-2 record. His K’s were good enough for 6th in the country and opposing batters only hit .201 off him. For as good as Hamel was on the year, Rhett Kouba was actually the Dallas Baptist pitcher named to All MVC First Team. While pitching on Saturdays, Kouba sported a 6-1 record, 2.81 ERA, and 10.99 K/9 innings. Following Kouba will be redshirt junior Luke Eldred. The former Freshman All-American earned All MVC Honorable Mention honors this season with a 4-0 record. He was extremely difficult to hit, especially for a Sunday guy sporting a 0.93 WHIP and .177 batting average against.
Anchoring the Dallas Baptist bullpen is Peyton Sherlin. The junior lefty led the team in saves with four. That number looks low, but it’s less indicative of his pitching and more a result of the Patriots being well ahead in most games in which he appeared. Sherlin was named to the All MVC First Team and only allowed batters to hit .158 against.
However, Before getting to Sherlin most teams will have to deal with Kragen Kecheley and Zane Russell. Kecheley appeared in 19 games this season and had the lowest ERA on the team at 2.08 and earned All MVC Honorable Mention honors. Zane Russell is a talented freshman righty with a 2.37 ERA and 1.21 WHIP while Chandler Arnold can eat up innings having gone at least 2.2 innings in six of his 15 appearances.
Finally, should the Patriots need someone with a starters mentality out of the bullpen they can turn to Ray Gaither. Gaither is listed as a Redshirt Junior, but this is already his fifth year in the program. Gaither actually earned the win in the game that eliminated Virginia from the 2017 Fort Worth Regional. Gaither started the year as the Patriots’ number two starter (after having been their Friday guy in seasons past), but struggled to a 2-2 record and 5.56 ERA. Regardless of how things have gone, it’s always a plus to have an experienced arm in key spots in the postseason.
The probable pitching matchups are as follows:
Saturday: Andrew Abbott vs. Dominic Hamel
Sunday: Mike Vasil vs. Rhett Kouba
Monday: Nate Savino vs. Luke Eldred
Virginia and Dallas Baptist get things started Saturday at 12 PM on ESPNU.