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Sunday, February 17, 2013

Simms Steals the Show at Reckling Park Series Finale

Rice's Sunday starter John Simms alleviated any disappointment I may have felt after missing Friday's showdown at Reckling Park between Austin Kubitza and Mark Appel.  Simms didn't allow a hit to Stanford until the lead off batter of the eighth inning as the Owls clinched the three-game series with a 3-0 win in the finale.

Simms, who was drafted in 2010 in the 39th Round by Washington, allowed only one hit, four walks and one hit batsmen while striking out three in his 7 1/3 innings of work.  He was not blowing away the Cardinal lineup, which included Dierkroeger, Ragira, Blandino and Kauppila(Austin Wilson did not play Sunday). However, he kept the hitters off balance all afternoon with his mix of pitches.  I am not familiar enough with Simms to know if he was more sharp than usual today, but he definitely got his junior season off to a promising start.

Simms was especially resilient in the first inning when an error and catcher's interference put two gift runners on base for Stanford with nobody out.  After a failed sacrifice attempt by Dierkroeger, Simms induced a double play grounder from Ragira, ending the threat.

His fastball was right around 89 (according to the Rice scoreboard), although he touched 92 mph a few times in the seventh inning.  I couldn't tell for sure what his off-speed stuff was, but it seemed like his 75 mph curve was on Sunday.  Also, I think he pulled the string on the change up occasionally at 75 mph. 

Another junior who stood out during the contest was Rice third baseman Shane Hoelscher.  Hoelscher had four hits in four at bats.  All the hits were solid singles, and one would have been an easy double if Hoelscher had not tripped over first base.  Hoelscher's first hit knocked in the Owls' second and third runs of the game, and he stole a base.  Hoelscher made a strong play in the field as well, charging a soft grounder to third and throwing across his body to force out the lead runner at second.

Rice reliever Zech Lemond finished off the game for Simms with 1 2/3 hitless IP, earning his second save of the season.  Lemond, a sophomore, walked one and struck out two.  His stiff delivery produced a fastball around 92-93 mph.  He also threw what appeared to be a slider consistently at 81 mph. 

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