UHV takes two from Fisher College
Family is the tie that binds and it can even help in recruiting.
Stephen Puhl kept asking his father to come watch a pitcher he coached at Houston Christian Youth Association, and Terry Puhl finally relented.
"Stephen kept on saying he can play, he can play at that level," Terry Puhl recalled. "I said 'Ok we'll see if he can play.'"
Terry Puhl liked what he saw of Nathan Falkenstine, and offered him the opportunity to come pitch at the University of Houston-Victoria.
"He was nice and fluid," Puhl said of the freshman right-hander. "At that level he really looked a lot better than the other pitchers. It's something when you go out there you go, 'Wow, this guy's really something.' But it's just the other ones aren't really that good.
"He was way above," Puhl continued. "His ball was riding good. He had a good curveball, probably had better control of his curveball than I thought he would have. He threw a pretty good changeup. He's got good stuff. He really has good stuff."
Falkenstine showed off his stuff by pitching into the sixth inning of UHV's 2-1 win over Fisher College in the first game of a doubleheader on Saturday night at Riverside Stadium.
Brayden Blanton shut out the Falcons (0-14) for six innings to lead the Jaguars (6-12) to a 13-1 win in the second game.
Falkenstine helped the Jaguars snap their six-game losing streak at home and win for the first time this season at Riverside Stadium.
He yielded three hits and walked one while striking out four. The only run Falkenstine surrendered came on a balk in the first inning.
"The first inning was kind of shaky," Falkenstine said. "After that I found my changeup working and that's pretty much all I threw. Everything was working well. I felt a lot more comfortable today."
Falkenstine had pitched only 8 1/3 innings this season and made only one previous start. But injuries have given him an opportunity for more playing time.
"Nathan's got a really live arm," said UHV pitching coach Doug Heinold. "I noticed that right at first. He's really come along and he's really been working hard. Every year you come in with a staff and some guys that you think are going to do really well don't, and some guys that you don't know if you can count on them and they step up. You just never know what you're going to get until you get into the year."
Falkenstine threw only 65 games, but Puhl decided to go to the bullpen in the sixth inning with two outs, a runner on third base and a left-hander coming to bat.
"It was kind of disappointing," Falkenstine said. "I really wanted to finish it but you've got to understand baseball and that's the smart thing to do."
The strategy paid off when reliever Clayton Fowler struck out Davidson Peguero and Corbin Mitchell worked a perfect seventh inning to earn the save.
But Falkenstine did enough to convince Puhl he belongs in the starting rotation.
"He's young. You got to go slow with guys," Puhl said. "That's why I've only been throwing him a couple of innings. He'll have a good outing and you kind of build. Now what you'll see is he will stay in the rotation to the end of the season."
Blanton allowed two hits, walked two and hit two batters, while striking out four in his first start of the season.
"Usually I just come in and do my job and get my outs and that's the inning," the St. Joseph graduate said. "This time I just wanted to come out there, start strong and trust my defense the whole time."
Tyler Steiner hit a two-run home run to cap a six-run second inning and Orlando Quiroga had three of UHV's 13 hits.
UHV wore green uniforms in honor of St. Patrick's Day.
The teams will wrap up the series with a doubleheader on Sunday at Riverside Stadium beginning at noon.
UHV 2-13, Fisher College 1-1
Fisher College 100 000 0 - 1 3 3
UHV 002 000 x - 2 4 0
Casey Reed and Sammy Alejandro. Nathan Falkenstine, Clayton Fowler (6), Corbin Mitchell (7) and Brandon Bohanon. W: Falkenstine (1-1). L: Reed (0-2). S: Mitchell (1). 2B: (UHV) Chad Kruse, John Longoria. Highlights: (FC) Eridani Dume 2 for 3, R, 3 SB. (UHV) Falkenstine 5.2 IP, 3, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 SO; Kruse 1 for 3, 2B, R, RBI; Ryan Suescun 1 for 3, RBI; Longoria 1 for 3, 2B.
Fisher College 000 000 1 - 1 2 5
UHV 062 005 x - 13 13 0
Mike Callahan, Tyler Baker (3), Pedro Escarfullery (5), Daurys Batista (6) and Brett Ramon. Brayden Blanton, Clayton Fowler (7) and Mark Macias. W: Blanton (1-0). L: Callahan (0-1). HR: Tyler Steiner (2-rnn) 2B: (UHV) Chad Kruse, Juan Solis, John Longoria, Orlando Quiroga. Highlights: (FC) Kenny Kahle 1 for 2, RBI. (UHV) Quiroga 3 for 4, 2B, R, 2 RBIs; Steiner 1 for 2, HR, 2 R, 2 RBIs; Longoria 2 for 3, 2B, 2 R; Chad Kruse 2 for 5, R, RBI, SB; Andrew Thibodeaux 1 for 2, 3 R, RBI, 2 SB. Records: Fisher College 0-14; UHV 6-12.