Monday, April 2, 2012

Hobbs baseball close to breaking through, needs to throw strikes

Hobbs' Tyler Janecka, hitting .511 on the season, gets a hit Saturday in Hobbs.
   I caught my first glimpse of the Hobbs baseball team Saturday when the Eagles hosted Alamogordo and I came away with a few thoughts after the two teams split the doubleheader.
  - Hobbs' pitching staff is strong, but has to start throwing strikes: As I wrote in my preview for Hobbs' game 5 p.m. Tuesday against Odessa Permian, the Eagles have the talent and depth to be one of the better pitching staffs in the state.
  The problem for Hobbs (which is now 7-6 on the season) is it's struggling to find the strike zone. Hobbs surrendered 20 walks in the two games against Alamogordo. During the 13-9 loss in game one (which ended up going extra innings), six of the first nine runners who scored for Alamogordo reached either by walking, getting hit by a pitch or a Hobbs error (only one of those). In 88 innings this season, Hobbs has walked 77 and hit nine others – allowing nearly a free pass per inning.
  With wood bats now in play and less power in the game overall, it makes it that much more important for teams not to give opponents free base runners. Like Hobbs coach Marco Boyle told me, the Hobbs pitchers need to attack the zone early in the count and trust their defense.
  - I'm digging the wood bats: I was a bit skeptical about wood bats, but that went away after Saturday.
  To see the game played in more pure form where execution is rewarded and a lack of it will cost you is fantastic. No more depending on the three-run home run to get back into games (well, other than Alamogordo's Nate Winron's game-tying grand slam in the first game). Sure, there are still guys that can poke one out of the yard – particularly at Hobbs' Sportsman Field and its hitter friendly dimensions. But for the most part it's about pitching, defense and true hitting – not a bunch of guys just trying to yank the ball out of the park.