March 6, 2012
I posted earlier last week about senior D.J. Milliken along with some quote from his pertaining to his last outing. After discussing that with D.J., I got to know the right handed pitcher a bit more outside of just that one game:
Avi Miller: What does your baseball background consist of (High school, your last three years here at Stevenson, etc.)?
D.J.: I played at Northern High School in Calvert County where I played outfield and pitched. I didn’t even try out my freshman year because I helped coach my middle school team my freshman year of high school, but then I played outfield and pitched my sophomore through senior years of high school. I came here [to Stevenson] as just a pitcher, but sometimes I wish I was an outfielder; I still play outfield every summer. Have played a little bit of second base before. My freshman year here I was more of a spot starter here and there, came out of the bullpen a little bit. Sophomore and junior years I was in the rotation. Last year, I actually got a lot of innings because we didn’t really have depth pitching-wise, so this year it’s nice to have a strong rotation. I think that’s going to be really key for how we do this year. Plus, we have a lot of depth hitting-wise.
AM: What personal goals did you have coming into the season (stat-wise and beyond)?
D.J.: Personally, I’m not really a strikeout pitcher. I don’t care about my personal stats as much as long as we win. But I do shoot for a 3.00 ERA, which everyone would shoot for, a 3:1 K:BB ratio would be nice, but seeing as I’m not much of a strikeout pitcher, that’s not as likely, but if I can keep up what I’ve started, that would be ideal.
D.J.: I actually developed my [current] mechanics here. In high school, I had a lot quicker delivery. I had a little bit of trouble during my freshman and sophomore years with leaving the ball up in the zone. You can get away with that in high school because you can blow the ball right past them, but at this level people have a lot quicker hands so you can’t really leave the ball up in the zone. The reason why I developed that pause at the top of my windup is because it allows my hands to get out and stay on top of the ball which helps me keep the ball lower in the strike zone. It actually helps a lot with my control and I’ve developed a lot more balance that way, too, since I have to hold my position there. I think it may take away some from my momentum towards the plate which maybe takes a little bit of velocity off but I feel like at this level spotting your pitches is so important. There’s times where you want to ramp it up and blow one past somebody but if you hit your spots, you’re going to be successful.
AM: Did you develop that on your own or was it partly from the coaching staff here?
D.J.: Yeah, actually, Chiv inspired it because he recognized the problem that I wasn’t getting on top of the ball and one of our former captains helped me to slow down my mechanics. He told me to slow my legs down to let my arms catch up, so that’s what it adapted to. It seems to work for me and it’s comfortable, so I just stuck with it. And I think it throws the hitters off as well. I’m quick from the stretch, but with that pause in the windup, the hitters are loading up but having to wait for the pitch which can throw them off. Or so I’ve been told.
AM: Are you a fan of baseball outside of Stevenson?
D.J.: Yeah, I am.
AM: Who are you a fan of?
D.J.: You’re not going to like the answer… I’m a Yankee fan and I actually became a Yankee fan because of Mike Mussina. I used to watch him on the Orioles when I was little and he was my favorite player and then he went to the Yankees. So that’s the story of how I became a Yankee fan. I also root for the Nationals, too.
AM: Who’s your favorite current player?
D.J.: Derek Jeter. He was around during the same time as when Mussina got there. When I started following the Yankees more, I started to like the guys like Bernie Williams and Mariano Rivera. I feel like, to an extent, if you’re a baseball fan, you kind of have to respect the [Yankees] just because of all of the history behind them with their tradition and past.
Thanks again to D.J. for taking time to chat with me. You can follow him on Twitter @dmilliken4.
Be sure to follow Stevenson baseball all season long on Twitter @SUStangBaseball!
February 29, 2012
I had an opportunity to sit down yesterday with Stevenson senior RHP D.J. Milliken to chat with him about his most recent start as well as an overall look at his college career, background, and future. Here is what D.J. had to say about his start last Saturday (February 25th) in which he pitched a complete game (7 innings in first game of a doubleheader) shutout against Penn State-Harrisburg:
Avi Miller: What was working for you on the mound Saturday that helped you plow through PSU-Harrisburg’s lineup?
D.J.: My fastball was working the best because I was spotting up and for the most part I didn’t have to throw too many offspeed pitches until I got to certain hitters. When their better hitters got up, I would mix it up a little bit, throw a changeup and a curveball here and here, mix it in with a spotted fastball. Seemed to be working so stuck with that for pretty much the whole game.
AM: The winds were very strong and fast on Saturday along with cold temperatures. How were you able to stay warm and loose to be ready out there on the mound, especially considering you weren’t wearing any long sleeves under your jersey?
D.J.: The wind definitely played a factor. Got a lot of movement on the breaking pitches with the wind. It was real cold. It actually wasn’t too bad when the wind wasn’t blowing but you definitely feel the wind. It starting snowing for a little bit which was interesting, even when it was sunny out. In between inning I’d come in [the dugout] and put a jacket on. I definitely don’t pitch with sleeves, though.
AM: Why is that?
D.J.: Actually, when I wear Under Armour, it wraps around my shoulder and kind of constricts my movements. So I’ve never really pitched in sleeves. People call me crazy but I think it’s more comfortable.
Check in tomorrow for the rest of my interview with D.J. where he discusses his baseball past, his time at Stevenson, and where he developed such a unique windup on the mound.
Follow Stevenson Baseball on Twitter @SUStangBaseball!
February 28, 2012
Feel free to follow the new Stevenson Baseball Twitter account @SUStangBaseball for periodic updates and notes on the team!
February 18, 2012
Drew Liebert was on his game today. The ball was coming out of his hand with force and control as the 6’6” power arm threw seven shutout innings for the Mustangs at Yank Bernier Field in Farmville, VA. While Liebert only had one strikeout in the game, he was forceful on the mound with a stellar 2:1 groundball to flyball ratio on the day. Able to mix in all of his pitches for strikes on all counts, Liebert got opposing hitters to put the ball in play consistently at Stevenson defenders who backed him up with a solid day all around on the diamond. An early on example of this was in the 2nd inning when Josh Morris made a blazing throw from center field on a single to drill out a runner at the plate, ending the inning and keeping the game tied. After a rough beginning for Liebert, who hit the first batter that he faced on the day, he seemed to zone in and pitch inside to lefties and righties alike with confidence, finding his way to an exciting win.
Going into his second start of the season, Liebert says he was “definitely looking to show that I can control all three pitches; fastball, breaking pitch, changeup, hit all my spots with them. I had heard they were a really good hitting team so I was looking to keep them off balance.” On what worked well for him today, Liebert added, “I think the best thing was switching the fastball around from outside to inside. The first time through the lineup I was mostly throwing fastballs. Second and third time through it was more offspeed later in the game which I think really helped out.” When asked about the reliable defense behind him, Liebert said, “You’re not scared to throw the ball across the plate. You’re not worried about walking batters as much. Make them hit it, make them put it in play. The good defense behind you allows you to work faster, at a faster pace, and to keep the game going.”
While the game with the opposing Knights of Southern Virginia University was a pitcher’s duel through the first three innings, the Mustangs heard the critical tone in Coach Jason Tawney’s voice after a brief huddle around the dugout prior to the beginning of the 4th inning that seemingly set off a spark in the bats that ultimately carried the ‘Stangs off with the victory.
The bottom of the 4th inning brought about a full load of scattered hits and RBIs for the Mustangs, started off by four straight singles by Justin Anderson, Zac Stavish, Matt Bratter, and Tony Prescott respectively. Following up that stack of hits was Chris DeFeo, who was hit by a pitch, while Scott Merkel tallied an RBI on a groundout to 3rd and Brad Blum hit a sacrifice fly out to right field. Finally, after an RBI single from Heath Johnson, the Knights pitched out of the inning, but not before the Mustangs had already tacked five runs onto the scoreboard.
The scoring was not over at that point, though. After batting around the order in the previous frame, Stevenson added to their lead in the 5th with a 2-RBI opposite field home run from Prescott, the designated hitter on the day. On his thinking stepping up to the plate, Prescott said, “My approach to that at bat was very, very relaxed. I was just looking for a good pitch to hit.” While the entire Stevenson benched looked out to the left field fence to see where his hit would land, Prescott remarked that he also did not know where the ball would land. “When I hit it, I knew I hit it hard, but I didn’t really know where it went, I lost it. I didn’t really know it was over until I saw the umpire give the sign. It was pretty cool [as] my first college home run.”
While Stevenson’s bats were relatively silent for the rest of the afternoon, not able to repeat their earlier stream of two out hits and plating men in scoring position, the team’s pitching staff refused to let SVU back into the game. RHP DJ Milliken threw a scoreless 8th while allowing one hit and one walk, and RHP Patrick Quinn came in to close out the 9th after sophomore Andrew Haab, who had warmed up in the bullpen previously, seemingly pulled an oblique on his left side on the first warm up pitch thrown off of the game mound to defensive replacement catcher Bret Schilling. Though the first few batter proved to give Quinn a rocky path to finishing the game, he managed to allow only one run after a hit and a walk with many thanks to a spectacular diving grab by Johnson on the left center field warning track to end the game.
Jordan Wright, who was a defensive replacement in left field in the middle of the game, said that he “saw the ball off the bat and thought I was going to be diving for it” but was “happy for him [Johnson] making that play.”
The Ty Cobb Classic, hosted by Hampden-Sydney College, which was supposed to run from Friday-Sunday this weekend, was cut short Saturday with the news that all of Sunday’s scheduled games had been canceled due to predicted snowfall in the area. In turn, Stevenson only had the opportunity to play this one game in the tournament. Their opponent, the Southern Virginia Knights, had beaten both of the other two teams present, Hampden-Sydney and Keystone, the day before.
The 2-2 Mustangs next play this coming Saturday in their home opener against Penn State-Harrisburg. First pitch is scheduled for 12:00 PM at the field on the Greenspring Campus of Stevenson University.
February 17, 2012
Thanks for visiting the new blog home of the Steven University Mustangs baseball team!!!
Here, there will be game stories, feature posts, and several other types of posts that you can follow all season long as the Mustangs look to make a splash in the NCAA D3 Baseball world!
I am Avi Miller, the lead writer and administrator for this blog. I also serve as the team manager for Stevenson Baseball. I plan to provide insider access to player interviews, behind the scenes photos, and more on this page!