The 2018 season has been a successful one for the Brock Badgers. At 10-4, they have the highest winning percentage, and the fewest amount of losses in the OUA. Since dropping their first two games of the season, the Badgers have gone 10-2, and look poised for a deep playoff run.
A huge part of the Badgers success has been because of their lights out pitching staff. In the 14 games Brock has played, they have only given up 41 runs — if you remove the outlier of 11 runs that UofT put up in one game, then the number shrinks to just 30 runs in 13 games – well ahead of any other team in the league. Second to Brock is Laurier, who has given up 21 more runs than Brock (albeit in two more games played). The pitching staff has given up just 2.9 runs per game, which doesn’t factor in unearned runs.
Derek Zwolinski, a fourth year sociology major who has helped lead this staff, spoke about his season, career, pitching style and more.
“I first started playing when I was six. When I was 15, my coach turned me into a pitcher, only it was a difficult decision. I didn’t realize I was meant to be a pitcher until I was 17; I was throwing hard for my age and was the ace of the staff so that really helped my confidence grow as a pitcher.”
Zwolinski throws a fastball, circle change, slider and curveball. He says a goal of his is to get his fastball back into the 90s, where it was a couple years ago. “A lot of guys say I’m a right-handed Rich Hill, and I’m okay with that.”
When asked what has made this pitching staff so special, Zwolinski attributed the competitiveness that has brought out the best in everyone.
“Every guy on the pitching staff knows their role. Every guy has been waiting their chance to shine on the staff, and with not a lot of innings to go around every weekend, you have to be successful to be relied on — and every guy has been that person we can turn to. With that said there’s definitely competition within the staff and the team. It’s not a long season, and we want to win every game, so we’re going to put our A-lineup out there. If you’re not [in] game one, you want to show you deserve it more than the person next to you,” said Zwolinski.
He adds that it’s all in good taste, and everyone wants their teammates to succeed. “You just want to be that guy, and every position has the guy behind you competing for your position, I think that’s the way you should go in this sport.”
The Badgers’ pitchers have been especially dominant when it comes to striking out batters. They have struck out over 90 batters this season, leading the league in strikeouts per nine innings.
The OUA playoffs run from Oct. 19-21. The Badgers open pool play against Toronto, Western and McMaster. “Our staff has been good at getting ahead in at-bats and putting pressure on when there’s two strikes for hitters to be aggressive,” said Zwolinski.
The Badgers are looking to make a deep run in the postseason, aiming for their fifth OUA championship, and first since 2014.