Vanderbilt vs. Oregon State
8pm CT, ESPN2
Let’s begin with the elephant in the room.
It’s not too often that I am floored by news covering college baseball. The news out of Corvallis that tonight’s presumptive starter, Luke Heimlich, will not pitch tonight must seem anodyne to anyone reading this who is unaware of the situation that has arisen in the past 24 hours. As this is, ostensibly, a preview article of tonight’s game, and subsequent comment thread for Vanderbilt fans watching the game, I’ll not delve deeply into the story. Rather, I’ll post links from two of the many publications that continue to cover this story, and then return to a discussion of tonight’s pitching match-up:
Of course, once you’ve familiarized yourself with the situation, the even stranger elephant in the room is that Heimlich, himself, decided not to pitch in tonight’s game. In other words, this was seemingly not Coach Pat Casey’s decision... which is just mind-boggling. There are only two possible scenarios:
- Coach Casey, and hence Oregon State, knew all along about Heimlich’s status as a registered sex offender—that from the age of thirteen to fifteen, he had molested a female family member beginning when she was four years old—and chose to prioritize his athletic gifts, and they are substantial, over this knowledge, hoping the story would never get out. Seeing as some MLB teams claimed to already know about Heimlich’s past, this is likely.
- Coach Casey, and hence Oregon State, did not know until yesterday about Heimlich’s status as a registered sex offender, but once they found out, refused to do anything about it—leaving the decision to Heimlich, himself. Seeing as some MLB teams took Heimlich off their board today, this is also possible.
Both possibilities are ethically murky to objectively horrid. Is there a 3rd option? Possibly, but I doubt it could be much more palatable. That is all I will say about the matter at this time.
Onto the game (which, yes, is very much tainted by this news, but let’s put that aside for the time being):
With Heimlich not pitching, Vanderbilt will face the other Oregon State Ace tonight, RHP Jake Thompson (13-0, 1.30 ERA). Thompson, who was the NCBWA Pitcher of the Month for April, has held opposing hitters to a .180 batting average, averages slightly less than 9 K/9, and has only surrendered two long balls on the year. He will have to face a scorching hot Will “Youth Hockey” Toffey, fresh off a Clemson Regional MVP trophy, Jeren Kendall, Julian “Chinfante” Infante, and the rest of the resurgent Commodores offense. Let us say “Hello, Mr. Thompson,” and press down on his foot from the first pitch of the game, and keep doing it until he understands.
Vanderbilt will counter with sophomore RHP Patrick “Mad Dog” Raby (10-3, 2.36 ERA). Raby will have to keep Nick “Mostly Madrigals” Madrigal and the rest of the Beaver offense in check, as the likelihood that this game turns into a pitcher’s duel is high.
Pour Jobu his rum, put hats on bats, and keep growing that moustache. Super Regional play starts tonight. We are, officially, two wins from Omaha. Let’s do this.