BANGOR, Maine — It’s always nice for a baseball coach to have an ace he can depend upon. He just gives him the ball knowing he is going to get a quality performance virtually every time he takes the mound.
Husson University coach Jason Harvey has a luxury.
He has two aces. One is a lefthander and the other is a righty.
Oddly enough, they have almost identical statistics.
Junior lefthander Ryan Arsenault from Portland and sophomore righty Nate Adams from Frankfort are each 4-2 with a 2.98 earned run average and two shutouts.
Adams has allowed 45 hits in 42¤ innings with 26 strikeouts and 14 walks. He has allowed just four extra-base hits and opponents are hitting .274 against him. Arsenault has allowed 38 hits in 45¤ innings with 34 strikeouts and 15 walks. He has allowed 11 extra-base hits and opponents are hitting only .220 against him.
In his last three starts, all complete-game wins, Arsenault has allowed just one run and nine hits over 21 innings with 17 strikeouts and three walks.
“I like both of them a lot,” said Thomas College coach Greg King. “They are competitive as hell, they throw strikes and they challenge hitters.”
“It gives you two aces right off the bat so no matter whether you go with a lefty matchup or a righty matchup, you feel comfortable no matter who you’re playing,” said Harvey. “And the good thing about it is, we have one of them start the first game of each [North Atlantic Conference] doubleheader. We follow them with our third and fourth starters [Chris Morris and Kyle Leeman] and it has worked out real well.”
“Whenever they’re out there, we know we have a real good chance of winning the game,” said Husson left fielder Kyle Vanidestine. “And there isn’t a ton of pressure on us to score a lot of runs because we know they’re going to hold the other team to just a few runs.”
“I’ve been trying to get ahead of every batter I face and I don’t let up throughout the game,” said Arsenault, who features a fastball, curve and changeup and will throw any pitch in any situation.
“I think my curve is my most consistent pitch but when I locate my changeup, that’s the toughest pitch to hit hard,” said Arsenault, who was 6-3 with a 3.96 ERA last year.
“He has the best changeup I’ve ever caught in my life,” said Husson catcher Kevin Rennick. “It’s like a screwball changeup [that moves away from righthanded hitters]. And he changes speeds batter than anyone I’ve seen before.”
Rennick said Adams’ two-seam fastball has “great movement” and his curve is “nasty.
“He can throw his curve in any count for a strike,” said Rennick.
“My two-seamer has been working phenomenally for me this year,” said Adams. “My curve has always been there, last year and this year, and the changeup is a work in progress but it has become one of my better out pitches, which has been nice to add to my repertoire.”
Harvey said both have improved over last year as they have benefited from an extra year of maturity and strength. Each has a little more zip on their fastball, he said.
“Nate’s arm is livelier. He pounds the zone with his fastball and mixes in his off-speed pitches,” said Harvey. “Ryan is the type of kid who can throw any pitch at any time and has confidence in all three pitches. As a hitter, you don’t know what you’re going to get in any count.”
Adams, who was 7-2 with a 3.26 a year ago and an All-North Atlantic Conference first-team choice, said he learned a lot from Arsenault last season that he has applied this year.
“He was our No. 1, hands-down, last year so I just tried to copy what he did,” said Adams. “He takes [every start] very seriously. I’ve tried to be more mentally prepared this year.”
Adams has also devoted more time to improving his fitness and he said, “I’m in the best shape of my life.”
Both said their teammates have played instrumental roles in their success.
“The guys have been making the plays behind us and they’ve been hitting the ball which is big, too,” said Arsenault.
Husson is 17-15 overall and, more importantly, 10-2 in conference play.
The Eagles visit the University of Southern Maine of Gorham on April 20.