TAMPA, Fla. — A perfect game is one of the rarest feats in baseball.
Last week Keven Pimentel flirted with one, using his swagger as well as his ability.
His performance against No.16 Nova Southeastern University on March 1 earned the University of Tampa senior Sunshine State Conference Pitcher of the Week honors.
Pimentel was perfect through 5 2/3 innings when he allowed a single, his only base runner. He finished with 10 strikeouts in seven innings in a 14-0 win.
“Early on I got a bunch of 3-2 counts or 3-1 counts, I was just like, ‘Attack the zone; let them hit it,’ ” the 6-foot-3 right-hander said at practice on Wednesday.
After being redshirted, the Huntington Station, N.Y., native pitched two seasons for the University of Miami solely in relief. In his final year he posted a 5.40 earned-run average.
Since transferring to the University of Tampa as a junior, Pimentel has relished in his role as starter with a 12-3 record in 19 starts as well as ranking fifth in the SSC this year with a 1.45 ERA.
“Being able to be a starter here and the confidence that coach Urso has in me to go out there every seventh day, to be the starter – it just instills more confidence in me,” Pimentel said. “I knew the abilities were there (and) the confidence to prove to myself, and prove to other people that, ‘Hey, I’m still a good pitcher.’ ”
Joe Urso is in his 19th season as head coach of the Spartans and built a Division II powerhouse, winning four national championships and 13 conference titles.
Urso has a keen eye for talent with 57 players selected in the MLB Draft since 2006, including a school record nine in 2010.
With Pimentel, Urso, the winningest coach in the program’s history, sees an edge in competitiveness, not just pitching ability.
“He has that edge that it takes to be great at this game,”Urso said, “and with him being our No. 1 pitcher and starting on Friday nights, he sets the tone for the whole weekend.
“And you’ll see the energy that he pitches with. He has tremendous stuff, command of three pitches. But just watching his competitiveness, that’s the edge that he has and why he’s so successful.”
Confidence and competitiveness is something Pimentel has taken from his favourites.
“Marcus Stroman, Pedro Martinez are pitchers that I grew up idolizing,” he said. “I didn’t really notice as much where I really throw [off] my emotions until I got here where I’m in big situations and key things are going on where I’m like wow — I start screaming without even thinking about it.”