Baseball
Will Matthews' Post-Game Column:
Jacobson Making Push for Starting Spot

Feb. 16, 2007

By Will Matthews

VANDERBILT 10 OHIO 1

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NASHVILLE - Brett Jacobson had his lunch interrupted Friday with the news that Commodore All-American left-hander David Price was down with the flu and that he would be starting that afternoon instead of Sunday as scheduled.

Despite Jacobson's relative lack of experience - the sophomore right-hander came into the 2007 season having appeared in only six collegiate games and with only two starts on his resume - he responded to the emergency call without hardly batting an eye.

"Obviously, David Price is the normal Friday night guy," Jacobson said. "That goes without saying. But when [Pitching Coach Derrick Johnson] called me I said `That sounds good.' Whatever I can do to help the team I'll do."

All Jacobson did in Vanderbilt's home opener was throw five hitless innings in which he allowed just an unearned run and three walks while striking out four in a 10-1 Vanderbilt victory over Ohio University and further his claim to one of the two open spots in the Commodores' starting rotation.

Not bad for a guy working on short notice.

"We would have thrown [sophomore Nick] Christiani but he had thrown a light bullpen session to get ready for Saturday so he couldn't do it," Head Coach Tim Corbin said. "So instead of screwing the whole rotation up we just decided to screw one guy up. And he was actually okay with it. He was fine. Sometimes when you surprise a kid it is better. I know coaches who have done that. I have never done that. But sometimes a surprise call is good for someone."

On a cold night at Hawkins Field that saw the temperature hover in the high twenties, Jacobson was forced to move away from the slider and changeup that normally are a part of his repertoire. Relying heavily on his fastball, Jacobson was aggressive with the Ohio hitters early in the count and worked quickly.

"I was just trying to throw strikes," Jacobson said. "I wanted to get back into the dugout as fast as we could so we could hit."

But as successful as he was utilizing his fastball, Corbin said the key for Jacobson Friday was the control of his off-speed pitches he displayed.

"He is showing a real ability to throw his breaking pitches for strikes," Corbin said. "Last year he came in and I think he was just one of those guys who tried to hump it up. From a maturity standpoint, I just don't think he knew any better. As much as we tried to get through to him, he just tried to throw it by the hitters. He is learning how to pitch. And good for him."

Jacobson spent the summer in Nashville working with Johnson in an effort to try and develop into the kind of pitcher that could be a regular contributor to the Vanderbilt club.

"Last year I was coming in and trying to make perfect pitches," Jacobson said. "That is something that [Johnson] really helped me with a lot. I am throwing a lot of strikes and I am getting a lot of movement on my pitches."

His work has paid immediate dividends. He started Vanderbilt's final game in the Houston Astros College Classic last weekend and earned a victory by limiting perennial national powerhouse Baylor to just four hits and one earned run in 6.2 innings while collecting six strikeouts.

And while Corbin did say that Jacobson still needs to work on refining his breaking pitches - he left a couple of hangers high in the zone Friday, Corbin said, that Ohio hitters did not capitalize on - all signs are pointing to his closing in on securing a permanent spot in the starting rotation.

"He is pitching with confidence right now, and he deserved to be there," Corbin said. "As long as he continues to progress, he will be fine. And I think that he will. I think that he is only beginning to just scratch the surface."


 

 

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