Fred Jordan insists he is not presiding over a great baseball team.
"Unselfish" is the way the Citadel baseball coach describes the 2010 Bulldogs, who Sunday capped a first-place regular season with a Southern Conference tournament title.
Eventually enough unselfishness turns out just great -- maybe Omaha-great.
Fresh from a 10-3 championship game victory over Western Carolina at The Joe, The Citadel is better armed to win an NCAA regional than the other six Bulldogs teams that qualified for the NCAA tournament since 1990.
That was the magical season The Citadel made it to the College World Series. These guys are good enough to celebrate the 20th anniversary with another trip to Nebraska.
The key is saving ace pitcher Asher Wojciechowski for the second game of an NCAA regional this week, and saving the Michigan native and Beaufort High School graduate for Game 2 of a super regional the next week.
So far Jordan, crazy like a fox, has the plan working brilliantly.
Wojciechowski threw 100 pitches in eight innings Sunday to improve to 12-2 after throwing 117 pitches while winning the SoCon tournament opener Wednesday night against Furman.
Too strenuous to throw in Friday's NCAA regional opener?
Worth the risk
The Citadel deserves to go into a four-team NCAA regional as a No. 2 seed playing a No. 3. Either way, they need the 6-4, 235-pound guy projected as a first-round pick in the June 7 major league draft to win Saturday against the No. 1 seed playing in its home ballpark.
"We'll match up and see," Jordan said Sunday. "More than likely he will probably go Saturday. It's not a big deal to us."
Junior lefty Matt Talley isn't chopped Spam. The Citadel's No. 2 starter is 7-3 with a 3.79 earned run average.
"In my opinion, you have 1A in this league and you have 1B in Matt Talley," Jordan said. "I think we'll match up OK. It will depend on who we're playing and where we're at."
The "pitching backwards" theory is frowned upon by conventional baseball wisdom. But it makes sense generally, and particularly when Baseball America in its latest issue rates "Wojo" as the college pitcher with the best fastball.
Keep in mind there is no NCAA regional reward for finishing second.
At some point, you probably have to defeat the No. 1 seed. So why not with your best pitcher?
The risk is worth it. A loss on Friday probably means a game against a beatable No. 4 seed in an elimination game Saturday. In that case - or with a Citadel victory and a No. 4 seed upset of the No. 1 seed - Wojo can wait for Sunday.
Hello, super regional.
All about Saturday
The Citadel didn't fare well against selected NCAA regional hosts and possible foes South Carolina and Coastal Carolina this season: 0-2 against each.
But that was without Wojo pitching.
With Wojo, poor Western Carolina had little chance Sunday. Now he is ready for his first NCAA tournament, even with the immense emotional distraction of a draft scheduled for one week from today.
"There's going to be a lot going on, but I'll handle it," Wojciechowski said. "I've been under pressure my whole life. Right now, I'm focusing on winning the regional. The draft is going to come and go and hopefully I'll still be playing college baseball."
What a classy move by Jordan to send Wojciechowski out to the mound for the ninth inning Sunday just so he could replace him before the first pitch. The standing ovation was long and loud.
What a smart move, saving Wojo for this Saturday and what might be The Citadel's biggest game since 1990.
Reach Gene Sapakoff at firstname.lastname@example.org or (843) 937-5593.
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