OMAHA, Neb. | Even though he doesn’t log many innings, Trevor Fitts has become a go-to pitcher for MSU this postseason.
The sophomore right-hander has been tapped as the starter for MSU in Game 1 of the College World Series championship on Monday (7 p.m., ESPN). It’ll be his sixth career start, including his fourth in NCAA tournament play. Fitts (0-0, 2.86 ERA) has logged 13 2/3 innings over the first five starts, and never more than 3 1/3. But he’s been effective, posting an ERA of 3.29, and State is 4-1 when he starts.
Fitts knows his role, which is to hand the game to MSU’s elite bullpen in good shape. He’s been fine with that, and he actually relishes trying to sneak up on teams.
“I’d rather people not know who I am and then me come in and hopefully dominate the game,” he said. “If people don’t know me, they don’t see me coming.”
Fitts started against Indiana last Monday, allowing two runs on two hits in 2 1/3 innings, striking out four and walking one.
“It was just an amazing feeling, all those people watching and stuff like that,” he said. “I couldn’t ask for a better experience, except to go for more innings obviously. But that all starts with me and how I throw the ball, pound the zone.”
In UCLA, Fitts will face an offense that doesn’t put up big numbers – it’s batting .248 on the year and .182 in Omaha – but will seize opportunities and pounce on mistakes.
“I see that they grind out at-bats, they’re not going to just roll over because they may not have the highest batting averages,” Fitts said. “They’re not going to give up, they’ve been finding ways to win of late. So we’re going to try to make sure they don’t find those ways.”
MSU coach John Cohen has not set his pitching beyond Monday’s game. He mentioned Ben Bracewell, a junior right-hander, as a possibility to start Tuesday – if he doesn’t work in relief Monday. Senior lefty Chad Girodo will almost certainly come out of the pen tomorrow, given how spectacular he’s been this postseason.
“You look at UCLA, there’s a lot of left-handed bats, a lot of really efficient, solid left-handed bats that you’re going to have to deal with. I think Chad could be a good matchup for them,” Cohen said.
Kendall Graveman, the senior co-captain, could also be available this week. He’s already started two games here, and the righty went 5 2/3 innings in Friday’s win over Oregon State, throwing 74 pitches six days after tossing 78 pitches over 4 2/3 innings. Graveman said he wants to find a way to be in the mix this week, and it would most likely be in Game 3 in some capacity.