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Vermilion grad Andy Oliver works on consistency

Mark Hazelwood • Jul 10, 2011 at 12:10 AM

Andy Oliver continues to learn how to pitch.

In perhaps his best outing yet in his quest to find consistency, Oliver, a 2006 Vermilion graduate, battled through 62/3 innings for the Toledo Mud Hens' 5-2 win Saturday against the Columbus Clippers.

Oliver didn't get a decision for the Triple-A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers, but limited the Clippers to two runs on four hits. He still showed signs of struggle with his command in walking five with two strikeouts while throwing 10 first-pitch strikes to 27 batters.

The Triple-A affiliate of the Indians, however, entered the game leading the International League in batting average, runs scored and RBIs. Just 10 days prior on June 29, the Clippers rocked Oliver for eight earned runs in three innings.

It was the most Oliver (6-6, 4.48 ERA) has had to work in his professional career, throwing 117 pitches (64 strikes) before Mud Hens manager Phil Nevin made a pitching change after Oliver walked a batter with two outs in the sixth.

"I probably could have left him in there for one more hitter with where his pitch number was at, but I felt like I didn't want to push it too far," said Nevin, a former All-Star with the San Diego Padres. "You run into a 10 or 12 pitch at-bat, and all of the sudden he's close to 130 pitches and that's too many."

Oliver, who was unavailable after the game, had a sluggish start. A wild pitch with two outs in a 20-pitch first inning allowed the Clippers to take a 1-0 lead. A sacrifice fly plated gave the Clippers a 2-1 lead in the third, but Oliver had already thrown 68 pitches, including three-ball counts to six of the first 14 batters.

"You'd like to see him come out of the gates a little quicker," Nevin said. "But at the end of the day it's nearly seven innings with two runs and a chance for us to win the game. He's done that lately.

"I know he's been struggling with some feel things, but he's pitched through them."

Read more of this story in Sunday's Register.

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