Baseball’s pitching staff centered around senior pitcher Arrowood

On Feb. 25, senior right-handed pitcher put together the best pitching performance of any ASU pitcher in 2012.

Arrowood baffled the No. 7 ranked LSU Tigers through seven innings, and struck out 10 batters, and allowed only three base runners to help ASU to a 1-0 victory. Surprisingly, Arrowood was able to dominate a highly ranked team despite pitching through an injured groin suffered early in spring training.

“He’s just healthy, and that’s really the bottom line,” Coach Pollard said. “He pitched with some nagging injury stuff through the first two months of the season. He tweaked his groin early on in the preseason. We didn’t even know if he would make his first few starts of the season. He didn’t really want to miss those starts.”

Now, Arrowood and coaches agree that the potential MLB draft pick’s injuries healed and ready to lead the Mountaineer’s starting rotation to possibly their first NCAA tournament appearance since 1986.

When Coach Pollard recruited Arrowood, he saw something special.

“We knew he was going to be good. I’m not going to sit here and tell you it was a big surprise,” Coach Pollard said. “We knew we were getting a good one.”

Arrowood has lived up to the hype. Last weekend he became the first pitcher in ASU history to win eight games in three consecutive seasons, something Arrowood calls a great honor. But the best part of Arrowood’s game is his power from the mound. Arrowood led ASU in strikeouts in 2011 and is running away with the title in 2012. Arrowood is tied for third in the Southern Conference for strikeouts with 67.

“I always come out and try to throw strikes,” Arrowood said. “It doesn’t always happen that way, sometimes you need to struggle through it, but either way you have to keep doing what you’re doing and it’s worked out for me over the last few years.”

Over his last three starts, Arrowood has been the model of consistency, going seven innings each outing and striking out at least five in each start. In his last 21 innings, Arrowood has allowed only five runs to lower his earned run average to 3.84. Arrowood also is the only Mountaineer in the weekend rotation that has yet to lose a game.

Arrowood attributes this to a slight tweak in his mechanics.

“In practice I’ve been working on some mechanical things I’ve been needing to work on,” Arrowood said. “I was flying open a little in my windup and stretch, the front side was coming open and I wasn’t striding as far due to my groin issue.”

His ability to pitch late into games has been a relief to Appalachian’s relievers. The ASU bullpen has struggled at times with three of the four most used relievers posting ERA’s above 4.00.

Closer Nathan Hyatt, the lone reliever to pitch more than 15 innings and record a sup-four ERA, believes that Arrowood’s tendency to pitch deep into games has lightened his load.

“It’s a lot easier. It makes it tremendously easier. Just coming in behind somebody that’s doing like that, it just gets in the hitter’s head,” Hyatt said. “It gives me more room for error.”

Arrowood hopes to continue his hot pitching into the SoCon tournament, but further out, he could find himself pitching in the Majors. Coach Pollard says that there is a growing interest in the right-hander.

“He’s getting a ton of interest. I’m talking to pro scouts every week about him,” Coach Pollard said. “I don’t speculate on the draft. It’s such an inexact science and I’ve been burned too many times before trying to guess, but I feel very good about the level of interest he’s receiving. I think he’s very deserving of an opportunity to go out and continue to play at the professional level, and I hope and pray he gets that opportunity. “

Arrowood will pitch his last home game Saturday against UNCG at 6 p.m.

Story: JAKE AMBERG, Sports Editor