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Pitching is the Answer for Bisons

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

March 7, 2006

Since the start of the baseball season, there has never been any doubt that the Bisons could hit. There was not one game when they did not stand a chance. Over the course of the first nine games, fans witnessed glimpses of great pitching, but the consistency simply was not there.

On February 17, right hander Josh Smith struck out ten Chicago State batters over seven innings to earn the Bisons first win of the season.

On February 26, Matt Schnelly dominated a Pittsburgh team, that was picked to finish second in the Big East preseason polls. In nine innings he gave up just three hits and struck out eleven.

Throughout their first nine games, these two wins were all the Bisons had to show for their efforts, two dominating, well pitched games.

During this span, the Bisons' opponents scored in double figures four times.

On March 4, the Bisons made the trip to Tallahassee, Florida to take on Florida A&M. Their record stood at a disappointing 2-6. Two days and one sweep later, the Bisons returned home with a three game winning streak and a much more respectable 5-6 record. What had changed?

A glance at the weekend's box scores perhaps provides the answer. In game one of Saturday's double-header, Smith pitched 5 2/3 innings giving up just five hits and three earned runs. He struck out five. Clutch pitching by Robbie Smithson sealed the victory for the Bisons and earned Smithson his first win of the year.

Game two of the double-header featured a dominating performance from sophomore Paul Piennette. Piennette threw a five hit complete game shutout while striking out five. He improved his record to 1-2.

In Sunday's finale, Schnelly was once again masterful. Over 8.2 innings he gave up four runs, three earned, on six hits, while striking out 13.

For the Bisons, pitching, dominant pitching, was the answer, True, the Bisons used several rallies to complete the wins. But no one had every questioned that this team could score runs.

In a 16-14 loss to Chicago State on February 17, the Bisons rallied back after being down 11-0, to fall just short.

No, there is no doubt this team can score runs. It was always just a matter of whether Bisons' pitchers could keep them in the ball game long enough to give them a chance.

History has taught us that great lineups are most often times simply not enough. The 2005 New York Yankees' prolific lineup featured a cast of All-Stars. No game was ever out of reach, because there was not one person in that lineup who could not be the star on any given night. But the team was forced to use 14 starting pitchers throughout the season, and failed to win 100 games for the first time in several years. In the Division Series against the Angels, the Yankees' pitching was something short of dominating and their season was over. A murderous row lineup could not bail them out.

It is this lesson, that baseball enthusiasts have continued to learn since the sport began. At the end of the day good pitching will always defeat good hitting.

So the question is this: How good is the Bisons` pitching this year? It is still too early in the season to tell. But it is certainly no coincidence that every one of the Bisons' five wins this season have come courtesy of a well pitched game.

Written by Krissy Wade