Barnette offering relief for Arizona State


For the Mirror

Tony Barnette is still a work in progress on the baseball diamond.

But the 2002 Thomas Jefferson graduate is at a pretty good place to become a better pitcher. Barnette is currently in the midst of his junior season at Arizona State University.

“My year is going well,” said Barnette. “My changeup has improved and is making me a better pitcher. My fastball may not blow people away, but I have good command with the changeup, it’s hard for people to hit”

Barnette transferred to Arizona State after playing two years at Central Arizona College. The Sun Devils enter a weekend series at the University of Washington, which includes games Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Husky Ballpark, as the 15th-ranked team in the country with a 30-19 record. Arizona State sits 11-6 in Pac-10 play — good for fourth place.

The 6-foot-2 right-hander is leading the Sun Devils in appearances this season with 25 and is 3-1 with a 7.02 earned-run average. He has started three games and also has two saves. Barnette’s primary role as a reliever is nothing new. During his time at Central Arizona CC he was 12-1 with 13 saves and helped the team win back-to-back conference championships.

“My job is to eat up the middle innings, fifth to seventh, and keep the team in the game, and to win,” Barnette said. “Our goal, of course, is to get to (the College World Series in Omaha), and do what it takes to get there. We’ve lost to big teams, and won against big teams”.

Sun Devil pitching coach Jack Krawczyk isn’t real concerned about Barnette’s high ERA and is happy with his progress on the mound.

“He is adjusting well, he is an easy-going guy who plays a good quality of baseball. He is my most reliable reliever, mostly long relief. He has a slider that is also coming along. He just needs to keep stepping up, and he will be successful. We have played a lot of tough away games. It is a mental game, doing what he does, all part of the process of getting ready for the next step in his career.”

Krawczyk, in his first year at Arizona State, knows a little about relieving. He was an All-American pitcher for the University of Southern California and had a six-year career in the minor leagues. His 49 career saves at USC is a NCAA record that still stands.

“He has an electric arm, he’s a changeup guy, with a decent fastball”, said Krawczyk.

Arizona State is playing a lot better baseball late in the season, which isn’t a big surprise. Year in and year out, the Sun Devils produce some of the best talent in America. The list of Major Leaguers from ASU reads like an all-star team and includes guys like Reggie Jackson, Barry Bonds, Floyd Bannister, Bob Horner and Willie Bloomquist, to name a few.

After starting this season 6-9, the Sun Devils have reeled off 23 wins in their last 32 games, including two three-game sweeps over Stanford and UCLA. The Stanford sweep was the first time the Cardinal have been swept since 1997. Stanford has been to the College World Series five of the last six seasons.

So it’s not hard to figure why Barnette chose Arizona State.

“I want to keep playing ball and keep having fun,” Barnette said. “I’m also here to get an education, I haven’t forgotten that, and I owe my parents a great deal for their support”.

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