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Batters fail to see how to make contact with Selik pitches

April 19, 2011|By BOB PARASILITI | bobp@herald-mail.com
  • Hagerstown Suns pitcher Cameron Selik has virtually been unhittable in his first three outings this season and is carrying a 0.00 ERA.
By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — Cameron Selik has been labeled a contact pitcher.

By the very name, the Hagerstown Suns’ right-handed starter is the guy who comes in and allows opposing teams to hit the ball in exchange for outs.

Selik did an awful job of living up to his title on Monday. He was so bad, he was spectacular.

Selik struck out 11 in five innings on Monday during the Suns’ 1-0 win over Lakewood. He couldn’t get contact if he tried.

That’s because the BlueClaws couldn’t hit him.

“My slider was sliding and my fastball was true,” said Selik, who was masterful despite getting a no-decision. “All I’m trying to do is just go out there and put zeroes on the scoreboard.”

That’s all the Washington Nationals’ 22nd-round selection in the 2010 draft had done for the Suns this season. In fact, he has put up so many goose eggs, he could start a hatchery.

Selik has put 15 zeroes on the scoreboard in his three starts for the Suns. In his 15 innings, the right hander has a 0.00 ERA while allowing just nine hits and walking three. Twenty of the 45 outs he has recorded (44 percent) of the 57 batters he has faced (35 percent) this season have gone down on strikes. He has just faced 12 batters over the minimum in his three starts.

So much for pitching to contact.

“I’m not afraid of pitching to contact and let them hit the ball,” Selik said. “I’ve thrown first-pitch fastballs and they have fouled them off. I have been able to get ahead in the count. Then when I have two strikes, I have three pitches I can use to get outs.”

On Monday, none of them were touched. Selik limited Lakewood to one hit and one walk — both in the first inning — before retiring the last 14 hitters he faced, 10 by strikeout. The slider was breaking away from right-handed hitters and Lakewood swung through his fastball.

Lakewood’s bottom six hitters in the lineup went a collective 0-for-11 with nine strikeouts against Selik.

Selik’s toughest stretch came in the first inning when Lakewood’s Edgar Duran singled and Jeremy Barnes walked with one out. The pair saw a combined 17 of the 87 pitches Selik threw in the game and that brought Hagerstown pitching coach Chris Michalak out of the dugout for a visit.

“He told me to start throwing some off-speed pitches,” Selik said. “He said that after I threw a couple, I would get my release point back. He was right as usual.”

Selik responded by striking out Jim Murphy and Domingo Santana to end the threat.

“Pitching to contact” is the style that Hagerstown’s staff has adapted this season. The goal is to keep pitchers in the game longer while taking advantage of the Suns’ strong defense, which has only commited eight errors in 12 games.

That was the style of pitching Suns’ manager Brian Daubach credited Selik of using during the preseason. But, the 23 year old is averaging 1.25 strikeouts per game this season and 1.2 Ks per inning as a professional after averaging .95 per inning in college.

“I usually average about a strikeout an inning,” he said. “I feel like I’m in a groove all the time. I never feel like I’m out of it. Once I get rolling, I get a lot of outs.”

Selik was the Suns’ starter on Opening Day and is credited with setting a tone for Hagerstown’s pitchers with is five-inning, no-decision outing in a 3-2 win over Rome.

“I feel like all the pitchers set the tone in spring training. It’s not just me,” he said. “The Nationals organization had a lot of good hitters in camp and we had to pitch a lot to them. It allowed us to build up our confidence for pitching to contact.”

Truth be told, though, Selik wouldn’t mind if other teams actually hit the ball from time to time.

“I’d rather get less strikeouts,” he said. “It would allow me to throw fewer pitches to batters and stay in the game longer.”

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