V For Venditte

April 6th, 2007at 11:38am Posted by Eli

Oh, this is way cool:

The pitch was nothing remarkable: Pat Venditte, Creighton University’s temporarily right-handed pitcher, threw a fastball past a Northern Iowa batter for a called strike three. It was his next windup that evinced this young pitcher’s uniqueness and, perhaps, professional future.

As his teammates whipped the ball around the infield, Venditte smoothly, unthinkingly, removed his custom glove from his left hand and slipped it on his right. Moments later he leaned back, threw a strike left-handed to the next batter, and finished the side in order.

Venditte is believed to be the only ambidextrous pitcher in N.C.A.A. Division I college baseball, the ultimate relief specialist. A junior, he throws left-handed to lefties and right-handed to righties, and effectively. In a home game in Omaha last Friday, he allowed only one hit in five and a third shutout innings to earn the victory against Northern Iowa.

Because neither arm was particularly tired afterward, Venditte also pitched in both games of Creighton’s doubleheader against Northern Iowa two days later, retiring the only batter he faced (left-handed) in the first game and then tossing a shutout inning (pitching both ways) in the nightcap. He also pitched two innings, alternating arms, in Tuesday’s game against archrival Nebraska. Venditte (pronounced ven-DEH-tee) has a fine 3.29 earned run average in 18 appearances this season.

(…)

Venditte is smoothly proficient from both sides. His deliveries are not mirror images of each other: as a right-hander he throws over the top and relatively hard, up to 91 miles an hour, with a tumbling curveball; as a left-hander, he relies on a whip-like sidearm delivery and a biting slider.

(…)

The Bluejays use Venditte as a long reliever so that he can be deployed at any point in any game. In the Northern Iowa game last Friday, for example, Venditte quelled a third-inning rally and then, facing a lineup that alternated its lefty and righty hitters, calmly switched throwing arms 10 times in the next five innings and allowed no runs and only one single. (Pitch limits are looser with Venditte because he shares the workload between his arms.)

Not only is that physically impressive, but it has to require some serious focus to be able to switch throwing arms at a moment’s notice, and not be at all disoriented. Be sure to check out the video of him switch-pitching here.

Interestingly, Mets closer Billy Wagner started out as a righthander, until he broke his pitching arm and taught himself to throw lefty. Now he throws 100 MPH with the wrong hand. Oy.

Entry Filed under: Coolness,Sports,Weirdness


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