UHV pitcher buoyed by summer success
Nov. 1, 2017 at 9:51 p.m.
Updated Nov. 2, 2017 at 5:58 a.m.
Ross Bludau felt a bit disoriented pitching at Riverside Stadium during the summer.
Bludau has grown familiar with the ballpark during his three seasons at UHV.
But the Schulenburg graduate had never played at Riverside Stadium in a visitor's uniform before taking the mound for the Brazos Valley Bombers of the Texas Collegiate League.
"That was my first time being in the visitor's dugout in a different uniform," Bludau said. "It was a little bit strange. I mean, same field, same everything, so no worries."
Bludau helped the Bombers capture their fifth straight TCL championship and hopes to carry the summer success into his senior season with the Jaguars.
"I definitely enjoyed it," Bludau said. "I learned a lot of stuff. You have D-I guys left and right, and they know a little bit about where they're at because of their careers, and I ended up learning a lot of stuff."
Bludau had a 3-2 record and a 3.05 ERA for the Bombers, while recording 22 strikeouts in his 41.1 innings pitched.
He made seven starts and had one complete game, but the biggest benefit was becoming more comfortable on the mound.
"I picked up on a couple of pitches I've been working on," Bludau said. "I struggled with the change-up here, and I kind of found some new grips with some guys on how to throw it, and it worked out well for me."
UHV coach Terry Puhl is encouraged by what he's seen in fall ball from the 6-foot-4, 215-pound Bludau.
"He heads up our staff as a starter," Puhl said. "I'm looking for him to be one of the leaders on team and to take one of the leadership roles on the staff."
Bludau showed signs of becoming a No. 1 starter last season, but was plagued by inconsistency that led to a 3-4 record and a 5.68 ERA.
"He had that one inning every game where he would struggle a little bit," said UHV pitching coach Doug Heinold. "Sometimes he would come back from it and sometimes he wouldn't. This year we're hoping for that consistency. We want to throw him a lot of innings. That's our plan. To put him out there and throw a lot of innings."
Bludau believes the time he spent with the Bombers and coach Trey Porras, who is an assistant at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, will help him pitch through trouble.
"For sure," Bludau said. "Just going in and out with the Division I players. Coach Porras told me before the season, 'If you ever start struggling, just think back to last summer and take a break, take a breath and go back to work.'"
The Jaguars have been working out at GameChanger Sports & Training because of the damage to Riverside Stadium caused by Hurricane Harvey and flooding at Riverside Park.
"I've got a pretty good idea of the athleticism of most players," Puhl said. "The pitching is a different story. Sometimes you need to see pitchers pitching in live games. Hitters too because once I see them hitting off a pitcher than I can say we have to make some changes in your swing."
The Jaguars will get their first look at live pitching Saturday when they travel to Beeville's Joe Hunter Field to play a scrimmage against Coastal Bend College.
"I think you'll see we have a lot more team speed and a little more athleticism," Puhl said. "We're a little smaller team physically, but we'll be a faster team. We'll be a pretty strong team defensively. The freshmen are very serious about the game. This is the first time I've seen a group of 10 freshmen who are serious about baseball."
UHV had a 21-24 record last season and went 13-14 in the Red River Athletic Conference, missing out on the conference tournament.
Bludau is determined to have his senior season end on a better note.
"This is it," he said. "My last ride. I want to go out on top."
Mike Forman is a sports writer for the Victoria Advocate. Contact him at 361-580-6588 or firstname.lastname@example.org.