Pitcher perfect Daley
It is hard to imagine someone 6-foot-1 truly sneaking up on anybody.
Or someone, for that matter, being a secret weapon on the mound, when in fact he’s been pitching since he was 6 years old.
But with a little more than half of the Capital Athletic League baseball schedule finished, Nevada Union junior Gary Daley has managed to turn some heads with his first year at the varsity level.
Daley, a right-handed junior with a fastball clocked in the mid-80s, has posted a 5-1 record and a stingy 0.62 earned run average to date. And while those wins are certainly his most important statistic, with the Miners scratching and clawing to keep playoff hopes alive, it is far from Daley’s most impressive stat.
While Daley’s size may conjure up images of a finesse pitcher, he is in fact a power pitcher who thrives on the strikeout. To Daley, every batter is a potential strikeout, every game a potential perfect game. His numbers reflect his approach to the game as much as his natural talent.
“I think it is the strikeouts that are my best statistic,” said Daley, who leads the Sacramento area with 46 Ks in only 34 innings pitched. “I enjoy striking out people. It is a challenge, too. If you have a couple of people on, no outs, and you have to strike this guy out, I know I have the stuff to do it.”
In his last appearance, he struck out six batters Tuesday and hung around long enough for his team to rally for a 7-4 victory over Bella Vista. For NU coach Ted White, Daley’s performance on the mound has helped offset the pitching loss of potential No. 1 starter Jason Gillard, who White said is expected to focus strictly on playing the field this season due to an arm injury.
White said the Bella Vista game was a good example of what Daley brings to the mound for the Miners.
“Every time he takes the mound, we have a chance to win,” White said. “We went ahead of Bella Vista 7-4, but a couple of guys get on in the seventh and I’m on my way to take him out of the game. He said he could get them out.”
So White left him in. White’s scenario whereby one more hit would mean the showers for Daley went for naught, as Daley retired the next two batters to preserve the win.
“You like to see that in a pitcher,” White said. “You don’t want him looking in the dugout when things get tough; you want him to feel confident enough in his skills that he can bear down and get guys out.”
Daley did not go out for baseball his freshman year and had his sophomore season cut short due to tendinitis midway through the 2001 season. But by spring of last year, Daley was hard at work rehabbing his throwing arm, even adding a splitter to his repertoire.
“The tendinitis is last year’s news,” Daley said. “I just need to make sure I keep up with my exercises to make sure it does not come back.”
White is every bit as wary of Daley’s valuable arm, not only weighing in which games to start Daley, but exactly how long and how often to use the talented right-hander.
“We have him on a pitch count,” White said. “So it is always on the back of our mind. He definitely has done more than I’ve expected him to do this year. It is a tough role for him to be in, being the No. 1 pitcher, and he has handled it well.
“He is our go-to guy now.”
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