Retz shines as double threat
High Point University’s double threat on the baseball diamond could have taken it easier this season.
Ryan Retz wants to be on the victorious side too much to do that. So, he again took on the role of the Panthers midweek starter on the mound as well as being a position player.
“I do it just to get wins,” Retz said. “I love winning and I love pitching so that’s the reason I’m pitching this year.”
He’s certainly helped the Panthers in that regard.
Going into a back-to-back, home-and-away series against Duke that starts today in Durham, Retz as a pitcher is 4-2 with a team-leading ERA of 2.77, has struck out 26 batters, walked 17 and allowed 21 runs (15 of them earned) in 48 2/3 innings spread over eight appearances as the Panthers’ midweek starter.
When not pitching, he’s been no slacker, having started every game while playing either first base or righfield.
At the plate before Monday’s game at UNC Asheville. he led the Panthers who have played in least 34 games in batting average at .357. He also led in doubles (13), home runs (four), RBIs (31), total bases (81), slugging percentage (.516), walks (18) and on-base percentage (.440). He was also tied for the lead in hits (56) and had struck out just 14 times in 157 at bats.
“It’s take him a year or so to figure out how much it takes at this level to do what he does,” HPU coach Craig Cozart. “You look at him, He’s a physically stout kid. It’s take endurance and a lot of flexibility from the mental standpoint. Pitching requires such a different rhythm than what hitting does.
Retz was flexible enough to make a big impact in a 7-0 win over N.C. Central last Wednesday as he went the distance on the mound for the second time this season and hit a two-run home run and an RBI double. Last Sunday, he belted a game-winning home run against Asheville
“He’s matured and figured out his routine,” Cozart said. “When you talk about the preparation to pitch, to get yourself ready on a weekly basis than be able to play either right field or first base, you have to pick and choose the amount of work you are going to put into different areas. You just can’t go nonstop in every area and expect to maintain your strength and endurance over the course of a college season.”
A big part of the challenge of being such a diverse player is mental in addition to limiting the physical demands.
“It’s just a mindset and it’s a lot of work in between games,” Retz said. “And it’s definitely about managing managing my arm. I just take some days off.”
Cozart credits much of Retz’s success on managing his body. That includes not throwing in infield-outfield drills.
“All of his throwing is geared toward getting him ready to pitch on Tuesday or Wednesday,” Cozart said. “He has a specialized strength and conditioning program that keeps him flexible and is geared toward endurance. Just like any player that reaches the level of performance that he has, because he has been awesome at the plate and stellar on the mound, he’s established a consistent routine daily to prepare for what he does. And that’s a sign of a mature player.
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