There is a story going on in the baseball world that simply isn’t getting enough attention. It started way back on March 9 and is still going on as of May 1. Over that span, Nick Petree, a sophomore right-hander from Missouri State, has faced 220 batters without allowing any of them to cross the plate. That’s eight starts, 56.1 innings, zero runs.
Not bad for a guy who red-shirted his freshman season in 2010 after having Tommy John surgery.
Petree is no fluke, either. As a freshman last season, he set school records for wins and innings pitched as he went 9-2 with a 2.81 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 81 K/27 BB over 96 innings. He was named the Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year and was also a Freshman All-American. He then earned MVP honors at Perfect Game USA’s M.I.N.K. League, going 3-0 with a 0.27 ERA and 33 K/4 BB over 26 innings. M.I.N.K. is an acronym for Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas and the league has been around for over a hundred years, pitting the best college players from the Midwest against each other over the summer.
Over his 11 starts this season, he is now 8-2 with a 0.70 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and 76 K/23 BB over 77.1 innings. The most amazing part about his success this season is the fact that he is doing it with a herniation in his forearm muscle. His velocity has taken a hit because of it, but he has still been effective, mostly because of his intelligence on the mound and ability to locate his four pitches with great command. He features a plus change-up, a slurve, cutter and a fastball that normally sits in the low-90s but is more in the mid-80s due to the injury. He also has shown an incredible knack for getting out of jams as 51 batters have reached base over those 56.1 innings, yet none have managed to score. I’m sure a little luck has played a part, as well.
Said his pitching coach, Paul Evans:
“He’s so intense and smart, he can analyze situations on the fly and figure his way out. He has a very good change-up and a feel for mixing and commanding his pitches. He’s very similar to (former Bears star and current Diamondbacks reliever) Brad Ziegler. Brad wasn’t a submariner like he is now when he was here. They both are so smart and have such good feel for pitching and intangibles, and they both have very, very good change-ups. Nick can flat pitch.”
College baseball doesn’t seem to hold official records for most consecutive innings pitched. By all accounts, Todd Helton (yes, that Todd Helton), tossed 47.2 scoreless over 26 appearances for Tennessee back in 1994. Petree appears to already hold the unofficial record, and with just three more scoreless innings, can pass Orel Hershiser who holds the major league record with 59 innings for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1988. His next scheduled start is May 4 against Air Force in Lawrence, Kansas.