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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Junior+pitcher+Brigham+Hill%26%23160%3Bearned+his+fourth+win+of+the+season+Friday+night+against+Brown.%26%23160%3B
Photo by Photo by: Morgan Engel

Junior pitcher Brigham Hill earned his fourth win of the season Friday night against Brown. 

Braden Shewmake has arguably been Texas A&M’s best player to this point in the season, leading the Aggies in most offensive categories, so when he says he trusts Brigham Hill more than he trusts himself, you know he means it.

Hill has not looked himself in his past two starts and suffered his first loss of the season last Friday against Kentucky, but the Aggies still have faith that Hill is their ace and will get back on track as they travel to Nashville for a three-game series against Vanderbilt this weekend.

“He did it all fall, he did it all spring — he’s done it this year,” Shewmake said. “He didn’t look as comfortable as he normally is, but he’s our guy. I have so much confidence in him it’s unbelievable. I love playing behind him. He’s going to throw it over the plate and throw strikes. I wouldn’t trade him for anybody. He’s our guy, he’s going to be our guy, so I don’t see that changing at all.”

Hill gave up more runs against the Wildcats last weekend than he did in his first four starts combined. The Kentucky hitters displayed impressive patience and crowded the plate, and Hill struggled to command his fastball. He hit a career-high four batters in the process, and most of the balls that were hit hard came on fastballs that caught too much of the plate.

Not surprisingly, the junior right-hander has been focusing hard since then to improve that area of his game. He threw more fastballs in his bullpen sessions this week, and he said he hopes that if he can control his fastball better, his wipeout changeup can be even more effective.

“I’ve just been working on fastball command,” said Hill, who is 4-1 with a 2.61 ERA through five starts this season. “That’s where I’ve faltered in my last two starts because if the fastball command isn’t where it needs to be, then it doesn’t set up any of your other pitches. I’ve been falling behind in the count and that really sets the hitters up for success.”

Hill said head coach Rob Childress, revered as one of the best pitching coaches in college baseball, has been encouraging him to stay mentally strong and to not stress about things out of his control. Childress, for his part, said he’s not worried about Hill.

“He’s our true leader on the mound, there’s no questioning that,” Childress said. “He leads us into every weekend, he’s a warrior and he’s going to give us his very best every time he goes out.”

Vanderbilt will counter Hill with Kyle Wright, a preseason first-team All-American and one of the best pitchers in the SEC. The Commodores are coming off a series in which they dropped two of three games against Ole Miss, but they return several of their starting position players from last year’s team. 

Hill lasted only 4.1 innings and gave up five runs when he faced the Commodores last season, and he said he is expecting their offense to once again have a good approach against him this time around.

“I think they’re going to play small ball. Last year I didn’t have a lot of success against them with that, so they’re definitely going to do a lot of bunting and crowding the plate,” Hill said. “They’re going to stay off the off-speed stuff out of the zone, so it’s really important to get your fastball developed to both sides of the plate.”

All in all, there is absolutely no panic in the Aggies’ dugout about Hill. They know pitchers go through slumps sometimes, just as hitters do, and that these last two outings are only going to make him stronger moving forward into SEC play.

Hill will take the ball for A&M against Vandy on Friday. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. and can be seen on SEC Network +.

“Brigham may not be pitching the way he wants to be pitching right now, but he’s 4-1 so I wouldn’t say he’s off track,” said senior first baseman Joel Davis. “He’s an unreal competitor so just to see him battle, not have his best stuff and still dominate teams just goes to show how great of a pitcher he is — nobody’s worried about Brigham.”

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