Two strong starts have senior pitcher Cale Wine looking like ULM’s newest ace.
Wine (2-0) dealt a complete-game victory for the Warhawks on Friday night in beating Sam Houston State 2-1 in Huntsville, Texas. The performance followed his season-opening 9-0 win over Wake Forest last week.
“Pitching on Fridays, you’re going to set the tone for the whole weekend for the whole pitching staff,” Wine said in an interview with Warhawk Nation on Saturday. “I needed to go out there and have a good game on Friday. It gives the team such a big advantage if you can go out and beat what is supposed to be their number one guy. That gives you so much confidence for the rest of the weekend.”
Wine is 2-0 with a 0.57 ERA in 15.2 innings pitched. He has 12 strikeouts and no walks so far.
“Being a senior, I’m trying to go out there and go as far in games as I can and try to keep our team in every game I pitch in,” he said. “So far, we’ve been able to do that.”
Wine, who allowed nine hits, one run and fanned seven vs. Sam Houston, credits command of four pitches, including a newly-added split-fingered fastball for his early effectiveness.
“So far this year I’ve been able to throw all four of my pitches for strikes in just about any count,” Wine said. “That’s what helped me out a bunch. I throw a fastball, curveball, changeup and splitter. Being able to throw four pitches anytime has helped me out so much.”
Pitching coach Justin Hill is helping Wine develop his splitter, which he’s been throwing for about a month.
“It’s definitely my strikeout pitch this year,” Wine said. “I think I had six or seven strikeouts yesterday and I think five or six on split-fingers. It’s more of a swing and miss pitch. That pitch has helped me out a bunch this year.”
Wine gives Hill credit for his maturation on the mound.
“That guy is an awesome pitching coach,” Wine said. “He’s going to help you with pitching but he’s good helping you with things you should focus on and your mentality on the mound. He’s really helped me out there. He showed me how to throw the split finger and it’s probably been my best pitch this year.”
Wine’s first two starts have been completely different in terms of offensive support. Warhawk bats were booming in staking him to a big lead early against Wake Forest but the game was scoreless on Friday through seven innings at Sam Houston.
“It doesn’t matter if we’re winning 1-0 or 100-0,” he said. “I just try to go out and put up a zero every inning. With their pitcher, we were going inning for inning with each other. I knew that I couldn’t give up a run or we would possibly lose that game.”
Wine was 6-4 with a 4.03 ERA as a junior for ULM with 15 starts in 17 appearances. Late in the year he showed that he could go deeper in games and now he’s cleaning up his game as far as walking batters. After serving primarily as ULM’s Sunday starter in conference action last year, Wine is settling nicely into an even more prominent role.
“My body feels really good and my strength coach has been taking real good care of me,” he said. “I feel like I’m in good condition to be able to throw a lot of innings this year.”