Alabama baseball’s weekend starters are some of the best in the SEC. Geoffrey Bramblett, Jake Walters and Nick Eicholtz combine for a 2.43 earned run average. The three players rank seventh, ninth and 11th respectively in the SEC for ERA among primary starters. Eicholtz said they all feed off of each other and that he, personally, might benefit the most from it.
“It starts with Geoff [Bramblett],” Eicholtz said. “He goes out there every week and gives us a great performance. He will come in and tell Jake [Walters] what he thinks of the hitters. He will go from there and I will hear from Jake and Geoff. I like being in the Sunday spot, hearing exactly what they have to say – you know, the weaknesses of the hitters, the strengths.”
Of the three, Eicholtz might be the one who is often forgot about. Yet he was the only starting pitcher to record a win against Kentucky last weekend. Eicholtz pitched a career-high 7.2 innings of one-run ball and earned his second victory in 2-1 win on Sunday.
“If Nick continues to build on that outing and pitch that way, then he’s going to have a lot of success, because he’s tough to hit,” coach Mitch Gaspard said.
Eicholtz may be overlooked because he doesn’t strike out as many batters as Bramblett or Walters, but he is just as effective. Of pitchers who made at least five starts last season, Eicholtz had the second-best ERA on the team at 3.65. He had an even lower ERA as a freshman at 3.35. Eicholtz’s success comes from the ability to place his fastball and put spin on it. His two-seam sinker produces a lot of weak ground balls and keeps his pitch count low.
“I always took pride in being able to maneuver the ball and maneuver it down,” Eicholtz said. “I could rear back if I wanted to and throw 95 MPH, but I enjoy when somebody makes early contact on sinkers early in the count – like this past weekend being able to go eight innings and have 80 pitches. I’d rather do that than have 10 strikeouts in five innings.”
This year is the first season that he made the weekend rotation. He is the Sunday starter. As the Sunday starter, it’s up to his start on how each series ends.
“Sundays are the most critical games,” Gaspard said. “Friday is the hoopla game where you have your two number ones and all that, but really Sunday boils down to you’re trying to sweep, you’re avoiding a sweep or you’re trying to win a series. So every game on Sunday is huge.”
Eicholtz had a successful high school career in Odessa, Florida. In his senior season at Cambridge Academy, he posted a 5-0 record and a 0.40 ERA. Perfectgame.org rated him the No. 7 right-handed pitcher in the state of Florida. That summer he was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 29th round. He decided on other plans post high school.
“I felt like at that point I wanted to come to college and grow as a person as well as an athlete,” Eicholtz said. “Just the thought of playing at the University of Alabama really pulled me in. Looking back on it now, I thought it was a really good decision.”
Alabama will host Ole Miss for another SEC series this weekend, and Gaspard said he will have to rely on his three weekend starters again. Both teams are tied in the SEC West for third place, so this series will put one team above the other in the standings.
“Even though we didn’t win the series last weekend, I thought that is the recipe for success, all three guys to go deep into the game,” Gaspard said. “I think it’s critical to get six innings from those guys because that really makes our pen tough when we can do that.”
Source:: The Crimson White Sports