David Deliz wanted to make this summer count.
As a redshirt freshman at Wright State this past season, the right-handed pitcher saw action in six games, not exactly much time to work out any kinks or push through many scenarios.
That’s why he was excited to join the DeKalb County Liners this summer. Deliz viewed it as a chance to pitch plenty of innings and work on the mental side of his game.
A bullpen pitcher and spot starter the first month of the season, Deliz became a regular in the rotation as the Liners clinched the top seed in the Midwest Collegiate League playoffs. Tonight, he starts Game 1 of the best-of-three MCL championship series against Northwest Indiana at 7:05 at Sycamore Park.
“I think I’ve done real well,” said Deliz, who sports a 2-2 record with a 2.70 ERA entering tonight. “I knew I had a lot of work coming in. I knew I had to get better. I started off slow, worked my way up with a bullpen guy and started to get better. Finally, I got a couple of spot starts and I just took advantage of it. I made sure that when I got an opportunity, I made sure to cash in on it.”
Deliz has come on strong, especially of late. On July 27 against Southland, he threw eight innings, one unearned run scored and he allowed only four hits in a critical victory.
“He’s come a long way,” DeKalb County manager Mike Siwiec said. “At the beginning of the year, we worked with him quite a bit, and he’s been throwing real well.”
Deliz said one of the biggest reasons for his late-season surge is confidence. In his past four appearances, totaling 242⁄3 innings, he’s only surrendered seven earned runs.
“The talent level is there, but the mental level, you have to step it up,” Deliz said. “A lot of things that never needed to be thought about just come up and I would think about negative things, try to be too perfect.”
He said he’s been able to block those out, and now he has the chance to get some experience pitching in a high-pressure situation for a summer league.
“My school was really excited for me to come out here, and I was thrilled to come out here, too, just to get more innings and grow as a player and get more confidence and have a better mindset,” Deliz said.
Game 2 is scheduled for Saturday night at Northwest Indiana. Zach Strecker will pitch for the Liners, Siwiec said. If necessary, Game 3 is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. Sunday at Sycamore Park.
“Every series is important, and to take the first game is pivotal,” Deliz said. “To pitch in such a big game like this, I’m really excited.”