Spencer is entering his 11th season as an assistant at Oregon State. The
associate head coach and pitching coach of the Beavers, Spencer has been
instrumental in helping the Beavers to back-to-back College World Series
appearances and the 2006 National Championship. He joins
CollegeBaseballInsider.com for the 2007 season.
Jan. 2, 2007
Early in a college baseball season, almost every club in the country has
their pitchers on a pitch count. Consequently, a team is using 10 to 12 arms
throughout the first month of the season until the starters are ready to throw
Once that happens, and the starters are pitching into the seventh inning
consistently, the need for the middle relievers is eliminated because the
starter is handing the ball off to one of two setup men or the closer. If you
are blessed with a good pitching staff like we have been, the middle relievers
do not get enough or any work on a three-game weekend, and now only six guys are
pitching regularly; three starters, two set-up men and a closer.
Currently we do not play many mid-week games due to geographical limitations
(that will change in 2008 with the season change), and it is challenging to keep
the guys from 7 to 10 on your pitching staff reasonably sharp in case you do
I have found that bullpens are not enough for these pitchers. It is important
that they face live hitters, even if it is your own hitters. Four or five live
hitters in a mid-week scrimmage are better than pitching in a non-live
This brings us to Daniel Turpen.
Daniel was our next guy, after the three starters and the three main bullpen
guys. He could pitch - he and I both knew it - but the other guys had not given
him much of an opportunity. He had thrown roughly 25 innings prior to Omaha with
one start and around a 3.00 ERA. His last appearance prior to Omaha had been one
inning to finish the Super Regional series with Stanford.
On June 17 in Omaha, he threw two scoreless innings out of the bullpen
against Miami in our opening loss to the Hurricanes. On June 21, we asked him to
beat Rice, the No. 1 ranked team in the nation. I firmly believe that the
pressure is on the team that has to win twice on the first night and on the
other team if it gets to a second game. The full weight of staying in Omaha
rested on Daniel Turpen’s neck.
When people asked me before the game how long Turpen could go or what would I
consider a good start, I told them that if Turpen pitched into the fifth and we
were in a two-run game either way, I would consider it a great effort under the
Daniel finally handed the ball to our bullpen with two outs in the seventh
and a man on first. He scattered five hits and one walk and, most importantly,
gave up zero runs. He threw 85 pitches and was in trouble in only one inning,
the fourth, when he registered a strikeout with the bases loaded and two outs.
Daniel’s performance not only allowed us to win that game, but it also swung the
momentum to our dugout and the pressure to Rice in Game 2.
I think the key to Daniel Turpen being good on that day is Daniel Turpen.
It takes a mentally tough kid to stay with it all year and prepare for an
opportunity that he does not know when is coming. Convincing a pitcher that he
can really pitch and then not pitching him due to circumstances beyond his
control and having him not think you are a hypocrite is hard.
Daniel is a testament to a young pitcher on a good pitching staff waiting his
turn and then taking advantage of his opportunity to be the man. In 2007, he
will pitch as a starter on the weekend, and someone else will have to rise to
the occasion when opportunity knocks on his door.
Recruiting Athletes (11/27/06)
(photo courtesy of Oregon State Media Relations Office)