|Philosophy powers Nitro’s McDonough|
|Written by The Herald-Dispatch|
|Saturday, 14 April 2012 15:07|
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Nitro sophomore Ryan McDonough seems to think he's the best high school baseball player in the state.
Well, not necessarily, but that's his mentality ... no matter where he is when the first pitch is thrown.
"Coach tells me before every game, whether I pitch, bat, play shortstop, left field, bench, it doesn't matter, he asks me who I think is the best pitcher and best hitter in the state, and I say, 'Me.' "
The philosophy is simple, as far as McDonough is concerned.
"It helps me power through things," said McDonough, who pitched only 14 2/3 innings last spring, but is 2-0 with a 0.58 earned run average in 12 innings this season.
In his second start, he had six walks and five strikeouts against Logan and, in three innings, had a runner in scoring position with only one out but survived unscathed before switching positions with catcher Korey Dunbar in the seventh inning.
He held Logan scoreless through six innings in a 3-0 Nitro victory.
"I have to have this bulldog mentality, as we call it," McDonough said. "You have to be a bulldog and bear down and, no matter what, grind it out."
* * *
IT'S OBVIOUS the key to Nitro's success is senior catcher and relief pitcher Dunbar.
One of the keys to his personal success is the ability to block pitches - what most coaches will say is the single-most important ability for a high school catcher.
While Coach Steve Pritchard said Dunbar has received a "bad rap" for blocking pitches, he has improved in that area by leaps and bounds from last year.
"Honestly, I changed my secondary stance with people on and two strikes, to where I'm a little more athletic and I can windshield wipe around and block those balls," Dunbar said. "Now, it's kind of natural."
Dunbar - who is batting .556 with four doubles - has signed to attend North Carolina.
* * *
THE KIND WEATHER hasn't been very kind to Winfield catcher Zach Gunter.
Because of the clear conditions and with some help from a turf infield, Winfield has played seven games the first 14 dates of the season, including a three-day stretch against Huntington, St. Albans and Herbert Hoover.
The toughest part for Gunter is going from basketball season to baseball season, and figures it will take some time.
"These guys have been throwing since the beginning of basketball season," said Gunter, who was one of the leading scorers on Winfield's basketball team and a first-team selection on the Daily Mail's All-Kanawha Valley Team. "The first time I picked up a ball was the day after the basketball season ended (March 7).
"It's rough coming out here throwing as much and playing three consecutive days is rough on your arm. Right now, I'm lagging."
Gunter and the Generals just finished a three-day stretch against Cabell Midland, Nitro and Charleston Catholic.
* * *
TRUTH IS, pitching isn't in abundance in the Kanawha Valley this year. There are few shutdown hurlers, unless some emerge as the season progresses.
Early returns are promising for Herbert Hoover's Tristan Fields, although two of his first three starts were against Clay County and Sissonville, who have a combined three victories.
Still, since beginning his high school career last year, Fields has surrendered only one extra-base hit in 58 innings. He also has 83 strikeouts and only 14 walks - that's 1.48 strikeouts and 0.24 walks per inning.
Also on the radar is Hurricane senior Drew Lawrence. Lawrence has pitched 191/3 innings, with 22 strikeouts, nine walks and a 0.72 earned run average.
Last season as Hurricane's No. 2 behind Wake Forest recruit Sam Kmiec, Lawrence was 5-1 with 41 strikeouts and 16 walks in 412/3 innings.
* * *
LOGAN COACH Roger Gertz is a soft-spoken, unassuming veteran of the game who doesn't pull punches.
The Wildcats, undoubtedly, will be better at the end of the season than they are at the beginning.
"We haven't had any timely hitting at all," said Gertz, who is in his 39th season at Logan. "We've haven't been outside that much.
"We've taken thousands of cuts in our baseball building, but when you get outside, your depth perception is different.
"I think we'll be a pretty good hitting team before the season's over."
Logan County's spring break, which coincides with Kanawha County's, will see the Wildcats in Myrtle Beach this week playing in the Mingo Bay Classic.
The Mingo Bay event also includes George Washington.
|Last Updated on Saturday, 14 April 2012 16:49|