Well, last night wasn’t great, but we knew this lineup would be a work in progress. The only real decision to second guess was Corbin and Brownie going with the closer, Ethan Smith, in the top of the 9th of a game in which they were trailing 2-1, rather than keep Luke Murphy—who was dominating—on the mound for a 3rd inning.
Smith promptly gave up a 2 run dinger, icing the game.
This is why you don't bring in a closer in a non-save situation. 2 run bomb. 4-1 Sex Panthers. Boo.— Anchor of Gold (@anchorofgold) February 27, 2021
Well... maybe not fully icing the game, as we did cut it to 4-2 with two runners on in the bottom of the 9th. Still, you don’t go to the closer in non-save situations. It never works out. No one knows why.
Bah. OFs collide, but catch it anyway. First loss of the season for the Dores.— Anchor of Gold (@anchorofgold) February 27, 2021
We all knew the pitching staff was otherworldly, while the lineup is young, but talented. This is how it’s going to be this season, and the only cure is more ABs for the boys.
Actually, before I move on, there was clearly at least one more decision to second guess, but that’s more of a “Why the hell does the rule book work this way?” type of second guessing, as Tate Kolwyck clearly fouled the ball off his foot, but the ump chose to let it be an inning ending ground out, instead:
For the life of me, I'll never get why "fair or foul" is reviewable, but "fouled off the foot, but called fair" is not.— Anchor of Gold (@anchorofgold) February 27, 2021
We’ve still got 3 games left in this series—today at 1pm CT, and a twin killing tomorrow at 12pm and 3:30pm. Expect Rocker and Leiter for both sides of the double header. On the mound today? Well, they’re still discussing it:
Tim Corbin says postgame that he and pitching coach Scott Brown will discuss Saturday’s starter here shortly – could be Sam Hliboki or Chris McElvain— Chad Bishop (@MrChadBishop) February 27, 2021
Of the two, I would go with The Perfect Stranger, as Hliboki Bartokomous is much more likely to go deep in the game, and has more of a starter’s mix of pitches he can throw for strikes. Now let’s tie up the series. One step at a time.
On the Mound
Georgia State Sex Panthers
#4 So. LHP Seth “Did Not Use to be Mel” Clark (0-0; 4.50 ERA)
The big lefty tossed 4 frames against the Hill People of West Virginia last Saturday, allowing 6 H, 2 R, 2 BB, while striking out 5. No word yet how hard he throws, but seeing as nearly all of GSU’s pitchers threw in the high 80s yesterday, there is distinct chance he’s the archetypal “Vanderbilt Kryptonite” soft-tossing crafty lefty. We’ll know by the end of the first AB.
#40 So. RHP Sam “The Perfect Stranger” Hliboki (0-0; 0.00 ERA)
Though this is Hliboki Bartokomous’s first start of the year, he had a relief appearance on Monday against The Wright State Freds in which he threw 2 IP scoreless, with 2K, 1H, and 1BB. Though his arm isn’t stretched out, I would expect Hliboki to get 4-5 innings today, as he has enough of a pitching repertoire to get through a lineup at least twice.
Here was what I wrote about The Perfect Stranger in the Pre-Season Relief Pitching Preview:
#40 So. RHP Sam “The Perfect Stranger/Hliboki Bartokomous” Hliboki
(0-0; 0.00 ERA; 5 appearances; 0 starts; 15 & 2/3 IP; 9.2 K/9; 2 Saves)
Obscured by the attention granted to Kumar Rocker and Jack Leiter (and rightfully so, of course), was the beyond impressive freshman debut of our Perfect Stranger. Hliboki Bartokomous was unreal on the mound in 2020, finishing the year with a 0.00 ERA in 15 & 2⁄3 IP (2 saves). In addition to not allowing one opposing batsman to cross home plate, The Perfect Stranger held opponents to a .043 batting average. That’s less than 1⁄4 of a Mendoza! In fact, only 4 people reached base when he was on the mound (2 H, 2 BB). On the flip side, 16 opposing hitters struck out.
If I had to bet, Hliboki will be our closer this year (who amongst Rocker, Leiter, and Smith are you going to bump from their weekend starting roles?), but it would not surprise me if he’s our Friday starter in 2022. He’s that good.