(Ed: I’m bumping this to the top for this morning, in case you missed it over the weekend. Another good update; feel free to keep the questions and comments for Matt coming.)

The Mustangs are in Missoula, Montana for a three-game set with the Missoula Osprey (Arizona Diamondbacks). We traveled last night after getting swept by the Great Fall White Sox. Although we lost all three games, it was actually a great series noted by two extra-inning games (one 15 innings, the other 12). I threw three innings in the first game (12, 13, 14), but my pitch count ran out before we scored a run. Our manager had to resort to using a catcher, Tyler Hauschild, to try and close the game. Even though Hauschild tried his best, the White Sox were able to plate a run in the bottom of the 15th to win the game.

We arrived in Missoula at about 2:30 am last night. When I awoke this morning, I walked out to our patio to see a snow-capped mountain in the distance…absolutely beautiful. My roommate for road trips is Eli Rimes. Eli is a left-handed, power-hitting first baseman from Sonoma State University. We were on the same initial flight into Billings and have been friends from the get-go.

With our pitching staff a little thin right now from the extra-inning games, I am “hot” again tonight (hot = up in the bullpen ~ new word for me as well). The big issue with our pitching staff has been throwing strikes. The number of walks we are allowing has increased our pitch counts and forced us to use more pitchers than the schedule calls for. Hopefully after getting swept, we can at least win this series against Missoula. (If my spelling is bad, sorry. I’m pounding this out at a nearby cafe and really did not have the battery on my computer to proof read it.)

Now to answer the question:

– I started pitching when I was 11 years old. My dad pitched at Purdue University and I guess it is just natural or in my blood. He would not allow me to throw a curveball before I turned 13, and even then was very cautious with it. I played for local teams when I lived in Madisonville, Kentucky, but after moving to Cincinnati I played with the Walt Sweeney Cardinals (a very competitive travel team). The summer my family moved to Cincinnati, I lived with my grandparents and played with the Lafayette, Indiana All-Stars. As far as knowing when I could play D-1 baseball, I kind of just always knew. I never really had a doubt. If there is one thing you will find out about being a somewhat successful baseball player, you have to have confidence.

– The manager and pitching coach set the starting rotation based on guys coming from extended spring training, pitch count limitations, the few practices we had, and most importantly, what the organization wants to see. It is definitely still a work in progress.

– Relief vs. starting ~ an age old questions to pitchers. I would say I prefer starting, simply for the routine you can establish. However, when I entered the extra-inning game the other night and knew I had to keep the other team from scoring, relieving can be very exciting. Right now, I’m kind of in a hybrid between the two, so ask again in a few weeks.

– Competition ~ I would have to say the competition is definitely better than college, however, the wood bat really levels the playing field. It would be like facing the 1-4 hitters from teams like South Carolina, Clemson, Texas, and of course Furman, every night, just with wood.

Thanks again for the questions and comments…keep ’em coming.

Matt K.