As noted here previously, the College World Series field has been set. On Saturday, the Florida St. Seminoles will take on the TCU Horned Frogs and the Florida Gators will tussle with the UCLA Bruins, while Sunday will see the Oklahoma Sooners cross paths with the South Carolina Gamecocks and the Arizona St. Sun Devils battle the Clemson Tigers.
Also noted here previously is the fact that David Perno has elected to serve as his own pitching coach. Since this move seems unusual, it is worth taking the time to find out just how odd a practice this is, and I can think of no better place to start than with the eight teams who made it to Omaha. Here is how the 2010 College World Series combatants go about coaching their hurlers:
Arizona State: The Sun Devils’ pitching coach is Ken Knutson, a first-year assistant in Tempe who spent the previous seventeen seasons as the head coach in Seattle. While in charge of the Washington baseball program, Coach Knutson took the Huskies to six NCAA tournaments and won three straight conference coach of the year awards in the late 1990s, but UW did not appear committed to building a first-rate baseball program.
Clemson: The Tigers’ pitching coach is Dan Pepicelli, a first-year assistant who spent the previous nine seasons as the head coach at Saint John Fisher College. Coach Pepicelli served as pitching coach in Rochester, in addition to his head coaching duties.
Florida: Gator assistant coaches Craig Bell and Brad Weitzel evidently are involved in all facets of the program under head coach Kevin O’Sullivan, so it’s not entirely clear who does what for the Orange and Blue. Coach O’Sullivan’s background is as a pitching coach, however, and he came to Gainesville after spending nine years as the pitching coach at Clemson. (Here’s hoping this hiring of a coach from the Fort Hill Felines works out as well for the Sunshine State Saurians in the long term as the last one did.)
Florida State: The Seminoles’ pitching coach is Jamey Shouppe, a 20-year assistant in Tallahassee who was promoted to associate head coach eight years ago.
Oklahoma: The Sooners’ pitching coach is Mike Bell, a third-year assistant who previously oversaw the hurlers at Tennessee.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks’ pitching coach is Mark Calvi, a sixth-year assistant who came to Columbia following an eleven-year stint as the pitching coach for the FIU Golden Panthers.
Texas Christian: The Horned Frogs’ pitching coach is Randy Mazey, a fourth-year assistant who previously served as the head coach at East Carolina. Coach Mazey also spent time as an assistant at Georgia and Tennessee.
UCLA: The Bruins’ head coach, John Savage, evidently serves as his own pitching coach, as assistant Steve Pearse coaches the infield and baserunning, while fellow assistant Rick Vanderhook oversees hitting and the outfield. Before becoming a head coach, Coach Savage’s stints as an assistant included service as a pitching coach, most notably at Southern California. As a player, Coach Savage pitched for three years at Santa Clara University and for two years in the Cincinnati Reds organization.
For those of you who are as bad at math as a Midwestern athletic conference, that means only one out of the eight teams competing in this year’s College World Series has a head coach who doubles as a pitching coach. Obviously, this is a very small sample size, representing just eight teams in a single season, but it offers at least a snapshot. Can it be done? Sure, it can. Is it done? Not by seven out of eight super regional winners, it isn’t.
On the other hand, look at what was achieved this season by the one team in Omaha that did what Coach Perno is doing:
It may get tiresome, but boy can these guys pitch. Only once this postseason had UCLA allowed more than four runs and they haven't even had to turn to Garett Claypool, who many believe is the best fourth pitcher in the country. In games that the Bruins have scored six runs or more this season, the Bruins are an amazing 42-0. The entire pitching staff has struck out a total of 639 batters this season, the most in the history of the Pac-10. That is why the UCLA pitching staff is almost universally acknowledged as the best in the College World Series.
All three Bruin weekend starters have at least ten wins, led by Rob Rasmussen's 11. Gerrit Cole has a 3.25 ERA on the year, while holding opponents to a mere .195 batting average. Trevor Bauer has a 3.02 ERA on the year and 141 strike outs, the most on the team. Rasmussen has limited opponent's to a .208 batting average en route to a 2.73 ERA and was never better than he was in his complete game, two hit start last weekend in the Super Regionals. Once you get past the starting staff, you have a bullpen that has played a large part in the Bruins' perfect record when leading after seven innings and 41-1 record when leading after six innings. that bullpen is anchored by Dan Klein, who has nine saves to go along with a 6-0 record, .214 batting average against and 1.93 ERA.
As noted by Garnet and Black Attack, the Bruins rank second nationally in team ERA (2.94) and hits allowed per nine innings (7.32) while standing in first place in the land in strikeouts per nine innings (10.3). Take that for what it’s worth.