Clovis News: Sports

Ex-Clovis West pitcher struggles against Bulldogs baseball

It wasn't exactly the starting debut or homecoming that Eric Karch envisioned.

The former Clovis West High star and Pepperdine freshman pitcher was roughed up for four runs off five hits in the first inning alone during the Waves' 8-1 loss to Fresno State before an estimated group of 100 family and friends in support of Karch on Sunday.

"I was thinking more of a complete game, shutting them down," Karch said afterward of his expectations going into the game. "But it gave me a good taste of what to expect, especially from a good team like Fresno State."

Karch – The Bee's high school Player of the Year last spring – admitted he was too excited about facing the college team he grew up following, and playing against past teammates and before his hometown crowd.

Not only did Karch struggle with his command early, he committed a throwing error on a pick-off to first base and allowed an easy steal of second later in the first inning.

But the right-hander allowed just one more run and one more hit during the remainder of his start, which is partly why Pepperdine coach Steve Rodriguez said he wasn't concerned about Karch's outing.

By the end of the game Karch had allowed five runs on six hits and two walks in 4 2/3 innings. He also struck out four.

"Eric is a young kid ... who's going to be a really good player for us," Rodriguez said. "He gave up hits, but most of them weren't hit hard. He's going to be fine. We like him a lot."

Karch has now made four appearances and one start for a 1-1 record with a 5.87 ERA and eight strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings.

"Hopefully, we'll get to see [Fresno State] later in the season at a regional," Karch said. "I think I was just too amped up this time around."

Eye on Northridge

While former Northridge coach Steve Rousey has proved quickly to have a strong fit as Fresno State's new pitching coach as the Bulldogs sport a 1.83 ERA, Rousey's replacement with the Matadors is making a difference, too.

Matt Curtis, who spent the previous 10 seasons as a Fresno State assistant, is 4-3 so far in the first year as the Northridge head coach.

Northridge took 2 of 3 from Valparaiso and split a four-game series with Seattle the opening weekend. Northridge has a team ERA of 3.31.

Northridge was 29-27 with a 5.81 ERA last season.

Local connections

Former Fresno State pitcher Jake Floethe, who transferred after enjoying a brief breakout season in 2009 that was cut short by a season-ending injury, appears to be doing just fine with his new team, Cal State Fullerton.

Floethe redshirted last season as he recovered from ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction, more commonly known as Tommy John surgery.

But he's back in the starting rotation and has a 3.18 ERA with five strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings.

Edison graduate Allen Riley has gotten off to a fast start at Pacific, with the junior outfielder hitting .417 in 24 at-bats.

Ex-Bullard star Martin Viramontes also has gotten off to a blazing start, sporting a 2-0 record with a 1.46 ERA and 12 strikeouts in 12 1/3 innings as the ace at Loyola Marymount. Batters are hitting just .182 against Viramontes.