Junior right hander Zac Rogers knows what it means when he gets an opportunity to pitch. He learned that in his first two years on campus.
As a freshman in 2015, he threw just 9 1/3 innings all season. He pitched nine innings across six appearances as a sophomore in 2016. Now, barely a third of the way into the season, he’s already thrown eight innings.
“With every opportunity, I just want to go out there and just trust in the preparation,” Rogers said. “Just play in a way that shows that I know what I’m doing and take full advantage of it, and not let anything go to waste.”
Those opportunities haven’t gone to waste so far. He has allowed just one unearned run in eight innings this season, appearing in eight games. Only two other SEC pitchers have kept a 0.00 ERA this season while throwing more innings than Rogers.
Even early this season, Rogers had to wait for a chance to pitch. He didn’t throw in the opening weekend of the season. He didn’t work more than an inning until he threw 3 1/3 against Missouri on Saturday. Rogers got the final 10 outs against the Tigers in a 7-4 loss, trying to buy the Crimson Tide some time for a comeback bid. The three pitchers who preceded him issued seven walks in six innings, but Rogers didn’t allow any.
“I saw the situation that the game was going,” he said. “Usually I throw a lot of two-seam (fastballs). Saturday, I changed to a four-seam grip because I knew we couldn’t afford to walk anymore guys. Usually, a two-seam has a little less control than a four-seam. I just beared down and started throwing more four-seams.”
Showings like that will earn Rogers even more opportunities. He wasn’t one of Alabama’s key relievers before, but he’s been playing his way toward a bigger role.
“The way it’s been, with some injuries and things, Zac has made every opportunity count,” head coach Greg Goff said. “He has a 0.00 ERA, he went in there and competed. That’s the thing I’m really happy with him about. We’ve given him the ball and he shows a little emotion and went after these guys. Really proud of him and want him to continue to work hard throwing strikes, because he’s got good stuff. He needs to trust his stuff. If he can do that, he’ll have a great year for us.”