Sophomore starting pitcher Seth Cutler-Voltz’ (Richmond/Henrico) performance in a 10-0 shutout win against Towson last Friday might have been near perfect and possibly the best of his career, but it hardly went according to plan.
Not only was freshman Blake Hauser (Chesterfield/Manchester) scheduled to begin the game before being ruled out just before because of a problem in his throwing arm, but Cutler-Voltz’ allergies were acting up so much prior to the match that he was coughing, wheezing and nearly not able to pitch when called upon.
But after getting some easy outs to allow him to settle down in the first inning, Cutler-Voltz found his zone and retired 10 of the first 11 batters he faced on the way to
earning his first collegiate shutout of his career; capped off Monday when he was recognized as the CAA Pitcher of the Week.
“I had to take nausea medicine (during the game) because I was feeling nauseous in between innings, but out there (on the mound) I was pretty good,” Cutler-Voltz said. “I knew it was a short park and they were averaging something like 15 runs a game there, so it’s special to get my first shutout in a spot where it’s just tough to do so.”
Friday’s win was part of a 3-0 weekend sweep of the Tigers, the first time they have been swept in conference play at their home field since the Rams achieved the same feat in 2007. The game also marked Cutler-Voltz’ second complete game this season (after being only one of three pitchers able to attain the feat last season) and was his sixth consecutive start where he threw at least seven innings.
Indeed Cutler-Voltz’s ascent this season seems to have gone hand-in-hand with VCU’s, which is now in first place in the conference by two games over second place James Madison heading into this weekend’s matchups. The Henrico product has already pitched 13 more innings than he did last season, his ERA is almost 1.75 runs better (currently good enough for fifth-best in the league) and most importantly, he has two more wins than he did in a encouraging yet restricted freshman season.
“Coming in my freshman year they said, ‘We don’t know how much you’re going to pitch this year because we want to develop you,’ ” Cutler-Voltz said. “And for me to make a stride from freshman year, when I wasn’t supposed to pitch that much, to now in just a year, that means a lot.”
The accolade was the fourth achieved by a VCU player this season after Richard Gonzalez (Caguas/Puerto Rico/PRBA), Joe Van Meter (Oyster Bay N.Y./Arizona State) and Hauser all received one in separate weeks. This comes after a season in which the Rams finished 10th in the division and had only one player selected to either the first, second or third All-Conference teams.
VCU will look to continue their rich vein of form in the conference when they take on the Hofstra Pride this weekend in a three-game set in Hempstead, New York. The Pride is coming off a series sweeping at the hands of Georgia State, which VCU will face next weekend, and currently lay fifth in the conference standings.
Cutler-Voltz, who is scheduled to get the start in the series opener for the second week running Friday, is looking for more of the same this weekend from a team that seems to be turning it on when it counts.
“I don’t know (why conference record is so much better); maybe it’s the pitching, maybe it’s the intensity of the conference,” Cutler-Voltz said. “We’ll try to take advantage of Hofstra struggling a little bit and go 11-1 in the conference.”