The transition from the bullpen to a starter has not been an easy one for senior Scott Sitz. The righty from Jacksonville Beach, Fla., has been criticized for his rough outings and questioned on his ability to stay consistent throughout a full season. There may never be a time when critics fully stop wondering about Sitz, but for the mean time, he has been shutting down every negative word shot at him with his performances as of late.
Making 18 appearances his sophomore year with only eight of them as a starter, Sitz managed 51.2 innings and ended the year with a 5.92 ERA. One of his worst starts of that season came at home against Wake Forrest when Sitz couldn’t manage to get out of the second inning, posting five runs and giving up four walks for his first defeat of the year.
At the same time, he showed a few glimpses of what he is capable of. In his first start of the 2011 season, Sitz threw six shutout innings and posted a then career-high five strikeouts against VMI. Sitz would later go on to pitch well in much bigger games against Florida in Tampa, Alabama in the Tallahassee Regional, and eventually get the nod against Texas A&M in the Tallahassee Super Regional.
Of those three games listed above, between UF and UA, Sitz went a combined 9 innings only giving up one run while striking out four on six hits. The TAMU game was a different story as he gave up five runs on 4 IP.
Although not perfect, he has found a way to get better on a regular basis.
“[Being consistent is] the one thing I’ve been meaning to do my entire time he,” said Sitz. “I’ll have some games where I’ll do good and then others when I don’t make it out of the first or second inning. [I’ve been] trying to work on cutting down on walks. It always helps never giving any free passes and just trying to be more consistent with my pitches in general.”
Since becoming a regular starter last year, Sitz has dramatically improved his ERA, strikeouts and walks. Last season he pitched 65.1 innings with a 3.72 ERA, whiffing 50 and walking 21. Even with some of his bad games, every player has them, Sitz continued to progress throughout the season, especially down the stretch and in big games.
Once again, Sitz came up big against the Gators, this time in Jacksonville, going 5.1 innings of two hit ball, only giving up a run. Once again, ‘The Stache’ came up big in the postseason against UAB and UCLA. Combined, in the postseason, the righty went 11 innings, surrendering two hits and racking up 16 Ks.
“The big games, I feel like just bring out the best in me,” said Sitz. “It brings out the best in the team. Everyone is all pumped up for the game; everyone is in the game the entire time.”
“I don’t know what it is, I don’t know why, but I feel like I always seem to be good whenever there is pressure on,” Sitz continued. “Some people don’t do as well, but I feel like I don’t do as well whenever there isn’t a pressure situation.”
Early in the season this year, Sitz has provided some much needed pitching help after the loss of Mike Compton to Tommy John surgery.
“Filling in for him, he had 12 wins last year,” Sitz began. “We have some big shoes to fill losing him. We have a great group of guys on the team. Whether it’s me, Pete [Miller] or [Luke] Weaver, it doesn’t matter who it is, we’re going to go out there and rely on our defense and make good pitches.”
In his two starts this year, Sitz has yet to give up a run in 12 innings. Dating back to last year’s game against UCLA, Sitz has gone 13.2 consecutive innings of scoreless baseball. When you add in his start against UAB last year, in his last four starts he has only allowed two runs in 23 innings of work.
“Coach Bell has been helping out a lot, mostly with my slider,” Sitz said. “I also started throwing a different changeup. I started throwing a split change instead of a circle change. I learned that from Robert Benincasa. That helped out having a third pitch.”
Now that the new season has started, Sitz has become one of the most excited players to go out and perform.
“I’ve been looking forward to the entire season,” said Sitz. “We’ve waited all year for this. We go through the entire fall, fall practice, fall workouts. Then you get to the spring and it seems like it just flies by and the time gets here when the season is here. You’re just ready to go. We have high expectations with getting to Omaha last year getting so far. We want to go back and win it all.”