Friday, May 24, 2013
Hwang's Resiliency Grounds Eagles' Threat
BY: Mark McGee, Lipscomb Senior Publisher
Worried about monsters under your bed? Wary of ghost and ghouls hiding in your closet? Well, Lipscomb pitcher J. Hwang dealt with a nightmare night that makes those fears look like a children's nursery rhyme.
Thursday night torrential rain, wind and lightning stopped LU's game with FGCU in the bottom of the second inning. When Wang left the mound he was faced with loaded bases and no outs.
Hwang knew he was going to be back on the mound Friday morning when the game resumed. So instead of counting sheep, he analyzed the batters he would be facing. The No. 7 through No. 9 hitters were next in line but that didn't give Hwang much comfort.
"It was a mess that I caused and I wanted to come back to it," Hwang said. "I thought about it for hours and hours. I couldn't sleep.
"All I thought about was pitching sequences...how to pitch to their guys. We broke down everyone of their players from the No. 7 through the No. 9 holes."
Hwang had a 3-0 cushion as the result of a two-run homer down the left field line by Tyson Ashcraft in the first inning and a sac fly by Drew Adams.
He would need all of those runs as did not get out of the inning unscathed. Sean Dwyer scored from third on a passed ball. Colton Bottomly brought in a run on a sacrifice fly to center.
Hwang recovered and protected the Bisons 3-2 lead by shutting down the Eagles the rest of the way until he was relieved by Tyler Burstrom with two outs and bases loaded in the eighth.
"We wanted to get them out and stop the bleeding as much as possible," Hwang said. "And it worked out.
"I kind of lost it at the end. I wanted to finish it more than anything. But Burstrom came in and did a great job."
The Purple and Gold held on for the win, eliminating No. 2-seed FGCU from the Atlantic Sun Championship. The No. 6-seeded Bisons return to the field Saturday at 10 a.m. EST.
LU coach Jeff Forehand never had a second thought about bringing Hwang back to the mound.
"J. threw 20 pitches Thursday night," Forehand said. "He is used to throwing every day. He has a resilient arm that bounces back.
"The team was pumped for him. He has been in so many big situations this season. He was prepared for this game. That is why we shifted the rotation a little bit because we knew he was ready."
Forehand likes the way Hwang works on the mound. He knows how to keep batters off balance.
"Every pitch he throws has movement on it," Forehand said. "He has a good slider. His split-finger fastball is effective. In this heat he was throwing the ball hard so he had the velocity to go with that movement."
With the Bisons fighting out of the loser's bracket Forehand was proud of Hwang's effort. In two games in the tournament LU has used only three pitchers.
"We felt like Hwang had the best stuff against a really good hitting team," Forehand said. "That is why we went back with him. It was nothing against anyone else in our bullpen. We had to look at the big picture with the rest of the tournament.
"Tyler came in and got the strikeout to end the eighth and then got them out one-two-three in the ninth. That is what we practice for all year long. When it was time to step up they both did."
It was only the second start if the season for Hwang, a sophomore right-hander. Even though he was starting in a tournament elimination game he did not feel any pressure.
"I always come into games in jam situations," Hwang said. "I wasn't nervous about starting."
It was his 26th appearance and improved his record to 2-0. His work as a reliever helped prepare him to be mentally and physically ready to return to the mound.
"My arm is always in shape," Hwang said. "I am ready to go at any time.
"It turned out my arm felt great. My teammates backed me up. Everything was good."