Tulane’s baseball team couldn’t ask for more from a starting pitcher than what Patrick Deuster has done.
In fact, it would be impossible.
The former junior college product has tossed 17 scoreless innings to open his Tulane career, helping guide the Green Wave (12-4) through a perfect midweek record thus far. Deuster will have an opportunity to prolong his streak on Wednesday at 6 p.m. when Tulane travels to Pete Taylor Park to match up against former conference rival Southern Miss (8-6-1).
“He’s got really good stuff,” Tulane coach David Pierce said. “He’s got a fastball with late tail on it and a slider that works anytime in the count to go with a great off-speed changeup. That’s the most important thing, but he’s also a student of the game who really pays attention to what’s going on.”
But don’t let the ERA fool you. It hasn’t always been smooth sailing for Deuster.
He’s surrendered 12 hits, walked six batters and tossed four wild pitches in those three starts. His .212 batting average allowed is fourth-best among Tulane starters this season, despite the clean scoreboard.
“He’s one of the best guys, mentally, I’ve ever seen,” catcher Jake Rogers said. “He’s confident and he trusts what he throws and he knows that the defense behind him is going to play just as well as anybody. So he lets them work and he knows that when he gets into a bind, he can trust in himself and trust in that pitching skill and he keeps finding a way out.”
It’s been the aspect of Deuster’s start that has impressed Tulane’s coaching staff most. While Pierce credits the junior’s arm strength and ability to work the strike zone, it’s been that intangible escape ability which has made him flawless thus far.
Beyond a simple toughness, Pierce credited Deuster’s understanding of game situations for the success as much as his unflappability on the mound. He cited the ability to not give in to hitters when there’s a base open and a runner in scoring position or to know which batters are critical to strike out and which ones aren’t.
“He knows when to nibble and when to try to try to get someone to swing at a pitch they shouldn’t,” Pierce said. “He has the aptitude of understand what he’s trying to do in the correct scenario. We’ve seen in a few times when he has a guy at third and less than two outs and he gets a pop up and a strikeout. “He’s not just going out there throwing. He’s going out there to execute.”
The Titusville, Fla. native spent the previous two seasons pitching at St. John’s River State junior college, where he was pinpointed by former Tulane recruiting coordinator Jake Gautreau. It was there that Deuster said he developed acumen for working out of jams, especially after he was moved to the bullpen midway through the season.
The change in mentality was stark and prepared him to enter Division I baseball as a well-rounded prospect.
“They needed some experience in the bullpen at my junior college and I knew it too, so I was open to making the move there,” Deuster said. “I had to get used to coming in with runners on base and I just had to stay poised and throw the pitch coach tells me to and trust in what I’m doing. I did well in that role, and looking back it helped me a lot to grow as a pitcher and understand that when you put runners on base it’s not the end of the world.”
It’s a lesson he’s carried with him to Tulane and one that’s paying dividends for the Green Wave.
“These first three outings have helped me a lot and they’ve been real confidence boosters,” Deuster said. “But, when it’s all said and done and we’re in the postseason this June, that’s all that really matters. It’s just about giving our offense a chance to win.”