Bill Hass with Bill on Baseball:Milroy adjusts to “piggyback” role

Posted by Guest Columnist on May 1, 2014 at 10:38 am under Professional | Comments are off for this article

“I struggled with it last year,” he said, “because I was more comfortable as a starter. Sometimes I rushed myself coming out of the pen. Now it’s a case of being mentally strong no matter what.”
Matt Milroy

from Bill Hass with Bill on Baseball(Greensboro Grasshoppers) at…..

Milroy adjusts to “piggyback” role

Matt Milroy admits he didn’t used to like the “piggyback” situation that has him starting one game and relieving in the next.

But he’s made his adjustment and right now it doesn’t matter if he starts or comes out of the bullpen. Wednesday night, it was his turn to relieve and he responded with five shutout innings to pick up the win as the Hoppers beat Greenville 7-2.

“I struggled with it last year,” he said, “because I was more comfortable as a starter. Sometimes I rushed myself coming out of the pen. Now it’s a case of being mentally strong no matter what.

“Our pitching coach, Jeremy Powell, is the reason for my success. He said it was a case of being a professional with a consistent mindset. That’s in everything I do, even if it’s on days when I’m just throwing a bullpen session.”

Sean Townsley, the left-hander from High Point University, alternates with Milroy and it was his turn to start. He got through three innings but threw around 70 pitches, giving up a pair of runs, and was done for the night.

James Wooster threw a scoreless fourth inning, which was important because that gave Milroy enough time to warm up and be ready. He entered in the fifth inning and slammed the door from there, giving up two hits and striking out five in earning his third victory.

“His fastball was above average,” Powell said, “and he got it by some hitters. He’s got a power arm, but the plus for me was the way he used his secondary stuff the last two innings. We want pitchers to learn to pitch off that fastball.”

Milroy pitched five shutout innings in his last start. In fact, in his last 19 innings he has allowed only two runs, both unearned.

“He’s in a good zone now,” said manager David Berg, “and hopefully he can continue because he has big-league stuff.”

Catcher Chad Wallach said Milroy was “a little wild, but effectively wild. He pitched to contact tonight and was in the mid-90s and touched 97. He had a good curve when he needed it.”

Milroy said he’s learning not to try to strike out everyone, although he gets plenty of those.

“A big part of it is using the fastball on both sides of the plate,” he said. “They want us to go inside and get hitters off the plate so they’re not comfortable.”

It was an efficient night on offense for the Hoppers. They had 13 hits, 12 of them singles, with Wallach and Avery Romero picking up three apiece. Four of their RBIs came on groundouts, with Juan Avila delivering twice and Kentrell Dewitt and Justin Bohn once each.

“That’s good situational hitting,” Berg said. “We tell them to take what they give you. Sometimes guys will overswing and pop up in those situations but they didn’t do that. It’s unselfish baseball.”

Wallach, Austin Dean and Rehiner Cordova delivered RBIs with base hits. Wallach has hit in seven straight games, going 10-for-25, to lift his average to .310. A lot of his hits go to right field and right-center.

“That’s just how my swing works and I try to stay that way,” he said. “I’m feeling comfortable up there and staying within myself.”

The Hoppers are two games into a stretch where they play 14 of 17 games at NewBridge Bank Park. They go for a three-game sweep of the Drive at 7 o’clock tonight, with Max Garner starting.

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