STINGY GATORS: San Jac brings star-studded pitching staff to JUCO
Scouting report on the pitching staff for San Jacinto College-North (Texas): Colten Schmidt threw a perfect game during the season opener at a tournament in Las Vegas.
And then Montana Parsons threw a no-hitter in the same tournament. Later in the season, Devin Smeltzer got in on the action and tossed a no-hitter.
Safe to say the Gators have some pitching depth.
This might be one of the best pitching staffs San Jacinto coach Tom Arrington has ever had, and he’s seen plenty of top-flight arms.
“It’s been a great staff all the way through,” Arrington said. “This is, possibly, I believe, one of the best staffs we’ve had at San Jacinto College. I believe we lead the nation in ERA — and the ability of these kids — they keep our opponents to 1.7 runs per game or whatever it is, that gives our lineup the freedom to relax and not have to press as much to score runs.”
San Jacinto has a 1.67 team ERA, almost one full run less than the second-lowest team ERA, and average nearly 11 strikeouts per nine innings as a staff.
Schmidt, a 5-foot-11 left-hander, has seven complete games in 14 starts. The sophomore has an 11-1 record and 96 strikeouts in 86 2/3 innings.
Smeltzer leads the Gators in strikeouts — 101 in 76 2/3 innings — and the 6-foot-2 left-hander sports a 1.29 ERA, the lowest among starters.
Parsons, the team’s one right-handed starter, has 74 strikeouts in 62 2/3 innings with a 1.58 ERA.
All three starters are impressive, but Arrington said the bullpen is key to the Gators’ success.
“The starting rotation is excellent,” Arrington said. “But the bullpen is where it starts for me. The back end is what matters most at this point in the season.”
And the Gators are stacked there, too.
Sophomore Cody Nesbit has thrived in a long-relief/set-up role, striking out nearly two batters per inning with a 0.49 ERA. Nesbit appeared in the JUCO World Series last season, working 4 1/3 innings of relief in San Jac’s season-ending loss to McLennan (Texas).
Closer Jorge Fernandez averages 14.24 strikeouts per nine innings and has 10 saves in 17 appearances. He’s yet to allow an earned run.
Eight relievers average 10 or more strikeouts per nine innings.
That pitching staff has backed a lineup that has hit well and run even better.
The Gators have 135 stolen bases this season, eighth-most in the country and trailing only Harford among JUCO qualifiers.
Brandon Montgomery — a University of Miami signee — has stolen 29 bases with an 88 percent success rate. John Grimsley has 27 steals and beats the throw 90 percent of the time. Five players have stolen at least 10 bases each.
Pair that with some power — Liam Scafariello, Ryan January and Max Wood are capable sluggers — and Arrington has a solid lineup.
“There’s not a lot of holes,” Arrington said. “We have 12 or more guys we can put into the lineup and know that, one through nine, we’ll have a solid player in there who can either put one over the fence, put a double into the gap or steal a base. There’s no rest period for the opponent.”
San Jacinto-North is making its record 21st appearance, according to the NJCAA, not counting the three appearances the San Jacinto-Central campus — which no longer fields baseball — made in the 1970s.
Arrington said the Gators are excited to be back.
“I think the tournament is very, very special and we’re very blessed to have the opportunity to be here,” Arrington said. “Hopefully we’ll see some old friends, meet some new ones and win some baseball games.”