ShareThis Page
Dalton’s experiment a success |

Dalton’s experiment a success

| Thursday, May 9, 2002 12:00 a.m

It was an experiment gone right.

At least that was the case for Gateway grad Matt Dalton, when he decided to try something different with his pitching delivery.

“Last year, I was messing around in the bullpen and I threw a couple of side-arm pitches,” said Dalton, who was a sophomore at Virginia Tech at the time. “The coach saw it, and we decided to work on it.”

The rest is history.

Since his switch from overhand to a submarine-type delivery, Dalton has played a major role for the Hokies. He is now the primary closer for Virginia Tech (26-21, 14-6), which is at the top of the Big East Conference heading into its game against Richmond today.

“After his first year, I was wondering how he was going to be able to contribute,” coach Chuck Hartman said. “But after the fall, I thought he was going to be a plus for us this season. He jumped out of the woodwork.

“He’s having an unbelievable year.”

Dalton, who transferred to Virginia Tech from Division III Case Western after three semesters at the Cleveland, Ohio, school, saw limited action in his first season in Blacksburg, Va. He threw 7.1 innings and had a 9.82 ERA, with only three strikeouts.

“I came down here, and the guys were amazing,” said Dalton, who is now in his junior season. “They were definitely better hitters than what I had seen before. It takes a little extra to play down here. It takes a lot more to get guys out. A lot of guys won’t chase. It’s not easy to strike batters out.

“The level of competition is extremely high.”

But since his pitching delivery is extremely low, Dalton is getting the best of most batters, who aren’t used to a submarine-type pitcher.

Going into the Richmond game, Dalton is 2-2 with a 3.18 ERA, which is good enough for second on the team. He has seven saves and is leading the conference in appearances with 22. Opposing batters have a .190 batting average against him, and he hasn’t given up any extra-base hits.

“I never would have anticipated this this year,” said Dalton, who is a civil engineering major. “It’s been a complete 180. It’s definitely a big change from last year.”

As with any change, there were positives and negatives with Dalton’s switch to the submarine delivery. As far as negatives go, the righty had to work on his control and lost some velocity on his fastball, which now moves in the mid 80s.

Besides results, the positives of the new delivery have been less fatigue on his arm and legs, as well as better movement on his pitches.

“It’s taken awhile to adjust,” said Dalton, who also throws a slider and change up. “I really haven’t had any arm problems this year, though. I really don’t ice it.”

Dalton, who was a starting pitcher throughout most of his career, has also had to develop into a closing pitcher.

“It took a little bit of getting adjusted to,” Dalton said. “Now, it’s a different situation. I don’t start thinking about the game until about the seventh inning. I put on my spikes and try to prepare myself mentally.

“You just have to go in and shut them down as best as you can. There’s a lot more pressure on you. The starter’s job is to keep the team in the game. When you’re trying to get the save, one bad pitch can cost you the game.”

The thing that has helped Dalton acquire the closer’s mentality, is the confidence of his coach.

“Poise under pressure is his biggest strength,” Hartman said. “He gets a lot of ground balls, and he’s a great competitor. Him being in that role is great.

“It doesn’t make any difference who were playing. If were up one, he’s our go-to guy.”

He might be on track to follow another closer that came out of Virginia Tech. A guy named Mike Williams.

Categories: News
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.