Blach Blocks SeaWolves In Gem
By Ryan Lazo, sports editor
May 11, 2014, 17:01
RICHMOND — Ty Blach does not intimidate opposing hitters or wow scouts with his pitching arsenal, but he does impress with his ability to both get outs and keep runs off the scoreboard. It's why before his start against the Erie Seawolves Sunday afternoon, Blach was the Eastern League's leader in ERA at 1.84, third in WHIP at 1.02 and fourth in base-runners per nine innings.
The Creighton University product was a 5th round draft pick in the 2012 MLB Draft and immediately opened eyes throughout the San Francisco Giants organization by earning the California League Pitcher of the Year award with a 12-4 record and 2.90 ERA for the San Jose affiliate. His success in Single-A has carried over into the River City through eight starts, including against the Seawolves.
While Blach didn't start the game effectively — he recorded the first two outs of the game on groundouts to short before surrendering back-to-back doubles to Eugenio Suarez and Wade Goyner — he turned it around over the last six innings of his start. The 6-foot-2 lefty befuddled the Seawolves' hitters all game long with his ability to spot his fastball and change speeds with a change-up and hard-breaking curveball.
All of it added up to a 7-inning complete-game effort in which he allowed just three runs on six hits, holding Erie at bay until his teammate Ryan Lollis came through with a grand-slam in the bottom of the 6th, earning his third win of the season in a 5-3 victory in the first game of a double-header.
Yet, Blach's effort on the hill is no longer surprising to Richmond manager Russ Morman after watching the lefty pitch over the first month of the season. He heard about the success Blach had and has now seen him deliver in each outing.
"He's a guy that has pretty good command and a feel for pitching," Mormon said of his 7-inning, six-hit, three-strikeout and no walk effort. "He has a nice tempo and doesn't make very many mistakes."
But it's the way Blach operates on the hill which makes him impressive.
Unlike most pitchers, Blach rarely wastes time walking around the mound, instead toeing the rubber immediately to put the hitter on the defensive. The 23-year-old also pounds the zone, rarely falling behind in the count which plays a critical role in his effectiveness.
His start against the Seawolves in which he did not walk a batter is just a continuation of his development after walking just 18 batters in 130.1 innings pitched last season and has just six in 35.1 innings this season. For his part, Blach said it's just about his mentality on the mound.
"It's just one of those things that I've done for such a long time," Blach said of his quick pace on the hill. "I just like to get out there and work fast. It keeps my defense in the game and I know they're the key to my success."
And it's that mentality that has him on an upward trajectory while allowing Richmond to win five of his eight starts this season. While other pitchers may falter after early inning struggles, Blach routinely rights himself as evidenced by a .224 batting average against.
In fact, it was his ability to take control of the game through innings four through seven which allowed the Flying Squirrels to capture a come-from-behind win. Blach retired nine batters in a row and 13 of his last 15 to give his offense a chance to break through.
After recording just three hits through five innings, Parker's scorched liner to first couldn't be corralled leading to the rally. Mario Lisson followed Parker with a single right over the second baseman before Ricky Oropesa lined a single of his own up the middle to tally Richmond's first run of the game.
That set the stage for Lollis — 0-for-2 on the afternoon to that point — to belt his first home run of the season for a grand-slam and go-ahead runs in the game. It was a a feel-good moment for the team to see a struggling teammate come up clutch.
"He came in the other night after a lineout and was pretty upset and he had another one today," Matt Duffy explained of his teammate. "To see him hit that ball it was sort of a catch that moment."
But Blach was the real story. He may never intimidate hitters with his low 90s heat, but his ability to keep the ball off the barrel of the bat will, keeping runs off the board and putting more wins in the left-hand column of the Squirrels.