July 23, 2014
By Jon Cooper
The Good Word
It’s difficult enough for a pitcher to find and sustain his rhythm when he knows he’s taking the mound.
It’s immeasurably more difficult trying to do so when he doesn’t.
Pitching some innings and finding his form was Matthew Gorst’s goal heading into the summer following his freshman year on the Flats. It was something he couldn’t really do in 2014, as he appeared in 15 games, all in relief, and pitched only 21 innings. He went 1-0 with a 7.59 ERA and while he held opposing hitters to a very good .244 batting average, his walks-to-strikeouts ratio was an uncharacteristic 22-16.
Basically, it was difficult to gain and sustain any kind of rhythm and display the form that made the Alpharetta, Ga., native, Johns Creek High School’s career leader in wins, innings, and strikeouts.
“I understood why I didn’t pitch this year. It wasn’t like I thought I should pitch even though I didn’t,” Gorst said. “But as a pitcher it’s much easier to be consistent when you’re getting out on the mound a lot. Especially when you’re starting and getting a lot of innings, you’re getting out there on a consistent basis and you’re on a routine.
“I feel like during the season at Tech I had a couple of outings where I showed it. It didn’t just go away,” he added. “I had about a three-week span where I helped us beat Miami, helped us beat North Carolina. So I feel like I showed it a little bit this year … It does feel good to have a consistent summer so that I’m still the pitcher that they recruited.”
He’s displayed that form for Asheboro Copperheads of the Coastal Plain League.
In his first six starts (through Monday), Gorst has pitched to a 3.23 ERA (14 earned runs in 39.0 innings), allowing 38 hits, while boasting an outstanding 3:1 strikeouts-to-walks ratio (36 K’s vs. 12 BB’s).
Even while starting 0-3, Gorst has routinely handled the competition. He didn’t allow more than two earned runs in any of his first five starts and although he finally did in his last one, allowing five, three of those came in the final inning, with the score 11-3, as he completed the game. He’s holding opposing hitters to a .264 average, and has allowed only two homers.
He’s also eaten up innings. Since going five innings in each of his first two starts (June 11 and 19), shaking off some rust after having not pitched since May 17, Gorst has pitched at least seven innings in each of his last four starts, including the CG in his last effort.
He’s starting to see some improvement in the win column, as he’s won his last two starts after the 0-3 start, a record that was misleading, as the Copperheads gave him five total runs of support, none in either of his first two games and one in another, while blowing a late 4-3 lead in one game. In his last his last two starts, both wins, Asheville has scored 24 runs for him.
Through it all, he’s remained the same guy — after all, he knows he can’t control run-support.
“It’s nice. Honestly, my last start I made was my worst one so far of the summer and I got a win out of it. So it just kind of depends on the day,” he said. “My last two starts they scored 24 runs or something like that and my first four starts we scored a total of five runs. So my performance has been the same. It’s just a matter of if they score runs for me.”
“It’s pretty cool. I enjoy it,” he said. “We played on the same summer team before we came to Tech and we played at Tech together and now we’re here together. It’s pretty good having familiar faces even though we’ve made some new friends on the team.”
It was a serendipitous reunion in the Coastal Plain League and in Asheville — Jackets freshman pitcher Ben Schniederjans has been pitching in the league for Columbia.
“Really we all had our own decision,” he said. “Each one of us had a couple of places we could have chosen from and it just worked out that this was the best situation for all of us. We didn’t really plan it out. It just kind of worked out that way.”
Things haven’t worked out perfectly for the Copperheads, who started play Wednesday in fourth place in the West at 8-10 in the second half, with nine games remaining (they went 12-15 during the first half), but there is no doubt that this was the right place and a good place to be this summer.
“The crowd, it depends on the night. Some nights we’ll get 200 people but then July 4th we had 4,000, but the crowd’s pretty good,” he said. “The crowd supports us all the time, even though we’ve had some rough stretches this year. They still come out and watch us play and cheer us on. So that’s nice.”
Gorst is hoping to help Asheboro get into the playoffs, but he also is looking forward to getting home, going on vacation with his family and having some R&R before getting ready for fall practices.
“By the end of the summer I’ll probably have about 70 innings, 75 innings on the season and that’s a pretty big load,” he said. “I’ll probably take about the first two weeks when I’m at home and I probably won’t throw very much. Then I’ll ramp it back up when I get back to school to get ready for fall practice.”
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