Feb. 14, 2013

CBI NEC Preview


Inside: With Bryant's Pete Kelich

By Sean Ryan

CollegeBaseballInsider.com Co-Founder

sean@collegebaseballinsider.com @collbaseball


For the first three years of his college career, Pete Kelich (left) and his Bryant teammates were ineligible to play for a Northeast Conference title as the school completed its transition to Division I. That all changes in 2013.


Kelich and the Bulldogs, who captured the regular-season conference title in 2012 with a  24-8 league mark (three games ahead of Monmouth) and 33-21 overall record, are eligible to play in the NEC tourney and have sights on an NCAA bid.


It starts with Kelich, a CollegeBaseballInsider.com honorable mention All-American last year. The senior right-hander from Jackson, N.J., who started his Bryant career as a shortstop, went 8-3 with a 1.81 ERA a year ago and was named the NEC pitcher of the year. Against conference foes, he was 6-1 with a 1.57 ERA, and in three seasons as a starter has gone 23-7.


1. You wear the No. 1, which is a little odd for a pitcher. What's the story behind that?

Well I got recruited to Bryant as a shortstop and numbers were distributed in the fall while I was still a positional guy so I took No. 1. I was always No. 1 in high school and for my showcase teams so I figured I would keep it. I was honestly considering changing it after my sophomore year to No. 11 but never went through with it.


2. How important was it to earn a weekend starter spot as a freshman?

I am very grateful for the opportunity that my coach gave me at that time. In the fall of my freshman, year I was a shortstop as I said earlier and didn’t hit very well so there was a good chance that I wasn’t going to make the travel roster for the first series. After one practice in the winter about two weeks before the season, my coach pulled me aside and asked if I wanted to throw a side. He knew I had pitched in high school so he gave me the opportunity to throw a couple bullpens and get on the travel roster. After a couple good relief appearances he gave me a start at Virginia Tech, and I was fortunate enough to start every Sunday game after that. I honestly didn’t care what I was doing as long as I was playing and helping my team win ball games. 


3. What were some of the keys in shaving more than two runs off your ERA last season?

Before my first start last year, I began saying to myself “If you keep the ball down in the zone you can’t be hit hard.” Basically I just really began to understand that I wasn’t always going to have my best stuff and wasn’t always going to be able to locate it perfectly, I just really focused on keeping it at the knees even if it was middle. I also developed a cut fastball, which allows me to work ahead of batters easier and be more efficient on the mound in terms of pitch counts for individual at bats.


4. How difficult has the wait been to become eligible to play for an NEC tourney title and NCAA bid, and now that the day has come, how excited are you guys?

It was definitely one of those things that you tried not to think about as much as possible. We would just set our goal of winning the conference before each season knowing that we couldn’t make the postseason. From Day 1 of this year, it has been a different feeling. Everyone has a little more bounce in their step and is excited to get going. With that being said, we are staying focused and just taking it day by day. Our primary goal is to get better each day.


5. Who are some of your favorite pitchers to emulate or simply watch?

I always try to be like Roy Halladay on the mound. He is a very calm and composed pitcher that relies on the location and movement of his pitches rather than pure velo. When he is throwing well it is an art. Recently, I have been watching Jeremy Hellickson a good amount. He is a guy that doesn’t have over powering stuff, but his simple and fluid mechanics allow him to repeat his delivery and locate extremely well.


(photos courtesy of Bryant Media Relations)