CWS Notebook: Artie Lewicki grows into Virginia bullpen ace in Omaha
OMAHA, Neb. — Virginia reliever Artie Lewicki seems to be making up for lost time.
Lewicki has pitched seven shutout innings while appearing in all three of the Cavaliers' College World Series games. Including two other appearances in the NCAA tournament, he has given up no earned runs in 17 1-3 innings.
From Wyckoff, New Jersey, Lewicki started nine games this season and has come out of the bullpen in six while working a total of 62.2 innings. His three innings of one-hit relief in the Cavaliers' 4-1 win against Ole Miss on Saturday lowered his season ERA to 1.44.
With three wins and one save, Lewicki (8-1) has factored into four of the Cavaliers' eight NCAA tournament games.
"The World Series, how it's laid out, is so different than anything we've experienced all year as far as separation of the games," coach Brian O'Connor said. "Our plan was not for the entire tournament, but let's pitch Artie out of the pen in game one and see where we are. Artie is a strike-thrower with outstanding stuff. I'm sure the Detroit Tigers are very happy they selected him."
Lewicki, an eighth-round pick, who mixes a fastball in the mid-90s with an effective slider, said he had no problem moving to the bullpen.
He said the biggest difference is that he has more time to prepare for a start.
"But in the bullpen, it's exhilarating," he said. "You go out there, do some stuff to get ready. As soon as the phone rings, you've got to get on it and get rolling. It takes a lot less to get hot, but it's definitely cool."
Spring's the season
College baseball leaders say they don't foresee moving the sport's traditional spring season into the summer.
Minnesota coach John Anderson in 2012 suggested that the Big Ten and other northern schools, unable to practice and play outdoors early in the season, break away from the NCAA model and play their own season in the summer. West Virginia coach Randy Mazey in May said it would help northern schools competitively if the NCAA season started after spring break and ended before the fall semester.
"I would not support that, and I don't think there would be much support nationally on that," Division I baseball committee chairman Dennis Farrell said. "I think just moving a college sport outside the academic year is something that people would have a real tough time grappling with from a philosophical standpoint."
American Baseball Coaches Association executive director Dave Keilitz said such a drastic change would be a hard sell. He said he remembers how difficult it was a few years ago to come to an agreement to get the season moved back just two weeks.
"I mean, seriously, that went on for eight years," he said. "At that rate, I'll be 147 before we get any farther beyond that."
In a sign of the times, the CWS record for sacrifice bunts in the aluminum-bat era is on the verge of being broken. There were 30 through 12 games, three off the record set in 2011. The all-time record is 39 in 1955. Aluminum bats entered the game in 1974.
ACC drought to end?
Virginia is the first Atlantic Coast Conference team since North Carolina in 2007 to make it to the CWS Finals. The Cavaliers are in position to win the ACC's first national title in baseball since Wake Forest in 1955.