Mar 27, 2013 9:37 PM by Bill Halter
The 21st ranked Cal Poly baseball team opens Big West Conference play Thursday at home against UC Davis. Ace pitcher Joey Wagman will start for the Mustangs. The senior has the ninth most wins in program history and is this week's Legend in the Making.
Wagman only pitched 16 innings in his high school career at Monte Vista because the team had three other pitchers ahead of him. All three are playing in college now including Stanford's Mark Appel who's the top rated pitcher in the country.
"You know high school with two games a week there's usually not too much room for the fourth pitcher so I let those guys do their job and just played center field for them," said Wagman.
Despite being a seldom used reliever in high school, Wagman always knew he could pitch. Cal Poly head coach Larry Lee became a believer in the few innings he saw Joey on the mound. "He just showed me that he had a possibility of a good breaking ball, he had good spin on a 12-6 curve ball and velocity was maybe 83, 85. With guys like that you just hope that they can develop and progress and that just has to deal with arm speed and little did I know that the makeup was off the charts," said Lee.
Wagman doesn't have an overpowering fastball. It tops out in the high 80's when many other guys are throwing in the 90's. But Wagman throws four different pitches with great accuracy, pitches that usually reach the catcher's glove. Wagman ranks sixth in the nation in strikeouts with 53 in 40 innings. The right hander is 5-1 with a 2.70 ERA.
"As a hitter if you can narrow down a pitcher to two pitches than you have a pretty good chance. You start swaying the odds in your favor. when you add three or four to the equation and you can locate with all those pitches than it makes it difficult for most hitters to separate," said Lee.
"You just try to go and execute pitches. Just know that you have the confidence to go and hit every spot with whatever pitch is called," said Wagman.
After going 9-3 with a 2.33 ERA as a junior, Wagman could have moved on to pro ball, but instead he told major league teams that he was going back from one more year with the Mustangs. "The biggest reason was because I knew we had a good group of guys coming back this year and it was something I wanted to be a part of and also I'll be able to get my degree at the end of the year in June and that's something that's really important to me and my family to become a college graduate" said Wagman.
Wagman didn't come back with hopes of having a good season, he came back for a great one. "The sky's the limit but I honestly feel that we've been the better team every time we've stepped on the field this year and that's a really good feeling," said Wagman.
Cal Poly opens the three game series with UC Davis on Thursday. First pitch in Baggett Stadium is at 6 pm.
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