Virginia's baseball team meets St. John's star Jeremy Baltz
After Jeremy Baltz's two home runs against Virginia on Sunday, it's clear that the Cavaliers now know all about St. John's talented freshman. It merely continued Baltz's breakout freshman season, in which the Vestal, N.Y., native has hit 24 home runs and is batting .398.
Although Baltz was selected by the New York Yankees in the 45th round of the 2009 draft, the Virginia coaching staff was not aware of Baltz during the recruiting process.
"Never did," Coach Brian O'Connor said. "I had heard some noise of him during the year that he hit quite a few home runs. We didn't hear about him through the recruiting process or anything."
Virginia hits the northeast region hard during recruiting, which makes the admission a slight surprise. Associate head coach Kevin McMullan, who was once an assistant at St. John's for Red Storm Coach Ed Blankmeyer, is well respected for recruiting the area. Blankmeyer said McMullan is everywhere on the recruiting trail, but the Red Storm received an oral commitment from Baltz early in the process.
"He was stuck up there in the northeast," Blankmeyer said. "It's very tough to keep a kid in the northeast that is talented. Once it gets out to July 1st, it's just over. These guys are signing kids real early. ...We got a verbal commitment early from him. That's the way of the world these days. If you want to get players, you have to get out there and hook them early. I don't like the process, but you got to get on the bus. Otherwise, you won't get kids."
The eighth-inning home run come on a slider left over the plate. Opponents have tried not to throw Baltz many fastballs late this season, and Baltz was surprised when reliever Tyler Wilson tried to sneak a fastball by Baltz on the at bat. Baltz fouled it off before hitting his home run.
O'Connor said it was never a consideration to pitch around Baltz and put the winning runner on first. Blankmeyer did not want to send the runner on first and give the Cavaliers an opportunity to make a decision about Baltz with an open base.
What is certain is that Virginia knows all about Baltz now, and will need to make decisions about how to pitch to him to win Monday's elimination game.
"That guy is a spectacular player," O'Connor said. "I've been watching him all weekend. He's got a great swing, some really good bat swing. We were throwing him some fastballs at 92, 94 miles per hour and he wasn't late on them. He had the home run to right field, to left field. That kid's a special player."
June 7, 2010; 12:45 PM ET
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