He pitched in near anonymity for three years. Now a senior, the man with the second most innings and experience of all Buckeye pitchers, is ready to prove that his investment of time and patience can pay off valuable dividends.
Despite Greg Beals and pitching coach Dan DeLucia’s druthers… the only veteran in the 2022 Buckeye pitching staff who will start the year under a veil of obscurity is that of a senior — starter, reliever, man whatever you need.
Ask anyone who follows who has been associated with Buckeye baseball for the past three seasons, “Who’s second behind fellow senior Griffan Smith in career innings pitched?” Ask and you get a blank look – a shrug.
But in fact, that person would be the right-hand man of pitcher Will Pfennig, of Mason, Ohio (Mason High School), a finance major, and a wise person on how to get people out and how to get the most out of it. to fetch. ‘ assets. He’s been there, yes. You just don’t remember him anymore.
“There’s a reason for that,” explains Beals. “Our ’20 season was shut down and last year we didn’t have midweek races. So we run those three horses out there – Burhenn, Lonsway and Jack Neely – on the weekend and they eat up a lot of innings.
“That allowed us to split eight innings a week out of the bullpen because the starters throw so many innings.”
On the next breath, when asked specifically about him, Beals is just as candid in his confidence in Pfennig’s experience and reliability.
“He’s never been the regular… he’s always been the ‘mocking’ guy who fills in or throws out the bullpen.
“But the thing about Will is his experience. What I love about him is that he is constantly learning and pitching about himself. He’s not going to try to throw 95. He’s going to try to beat your bat. He will make you miss.”
Pitching coach Dan DeLucia also appreciates his knowledge and skills.
“Will is versatile,” says DeLucia of Pfennig, a popular figure on the Buckeye roster. “He can start and he can relieve.
“But what he really has is maturity. He’s that upperclassman who knows what pressure is, and he can share that with the younger guys. His greatest quality is the way he handles himself and his emotions during a match. And more importantly still, as a senior he is willing to do anything to help our team be successful he is not one of those upperclassmen still trying to get ‘their’ their time to shine he is willing to do whatever it takes He is ready to take baseball in big places.”
The proof, of course, is in the numbers. Pfennig threw 33 innings in 2021, more than any other pitcher on the staff other than Burhenn, Lonsway and Neely.
And his 98.2 innings since 2019 is second only to starter Griffan Smith to pitchers currently on the staff — marked by his 58.2 innings he pitched as a freshman in 2019. 60.3.
Other numbers can be confusing. His career ERA hovers around 5.00, but that’s affected by the fact that a bad college baseball performance can literally blow up a reliever’s stat-line. Give up three or four runs in an inning and it could take the rest of the year to clean that up. Do enough and you’ll earn your place in the obscurity hall of fame.
On the other hand, he threw 6.2 innings last year against Nebraska, giving up 3 earned runs and 7.
He pitched 3.1 innings of shutout, 1-hit baseball against Indiana; and his career has been littered with trips over three innings where his effectiveness gave the Buckeyes a chance to win.
“I’m super excited about 2022,” Pfennig said this week, who is completing his finance degree this semester.
“And I know that my experience will be an asset this year. We did an exercise at a pitchers meeting this week where Goldie (pitching coordinator Brad Goldberg) emphasized how inexperienced our staff are. He asked all of us to stand up and said, “How many of you pitched an inning for Ohio State?”. If you haven’t, sit down.’ A bunch of guys sat down. Then he said, “How many threw in a weekend game?” and a few more sat down. Then he said, “How many of you won a game for the state of Ohio?” and more sat down. At the end there were only two or three left, including Granger and me. So we don’t have a lot of experience.”
He can do both, but would he rather start or pay off? Does he have a preference?
“I just want to help us win,” he says. “Do I have a preference? I’m a senior now and I’m in my fifth year of eligibility, but I want to win. I won a ring in my first year (Big Ten Tourney) and I want to win another one. I prefer to start, of course, but if it’s coming out of the pen that helps our team win more games, then I’m willing to do that.”
To get into Beals’ assessment of what makes him effective — “He’ll make you miss” — he shares this self-analysis.
“I’m not going to blow anyone away,” he admits. “But I’m confident in my arsenal and knowledge of how to get people out. I can command the ball. I can mix and locate. I’ve had to learn and adapt, and last year I used my cutter a ton. This fall I’ve been working a lot on locating the cutter and the two-seam in and out, so I’ve become more confident casting to both sides of the plate. That’s what makes this year special, and I’m excited to see how effective I can be.”
His career numbers won’t make you stand still. But he throws 90 miles an hour, he has more experience than anyone not named Griffan Smith, and like any good financial man, Will Pfennig uses his wealth wisely.
“I am excited about this team as we are firmly in the center with Todys, Bookman, Dezenzo, Bauer, Drew Reckard and Kade Kern in the middle. We hit more. Those guys can swing – they’re going to swing.
“We’re hungry, the hungriest group I’ve ever been to,” he says firmly.
If he’s still unfamiliar to you, that’s just how it is. The fate of throwing whatever you need is hard to remember. But… he is known for giving his team a chance to win.
And Will Pfennig is counting on what he knows.