Two-way players, those who hit and pitch, are not uncommon at The Master’s University.
You’d only have to hang around Lou Herwaldt Stadium for a series or two to notice Preston White hustle in from right field so he can light up a radar gun. Or for designated hitter Jaiden France to climb the hill for an outing.
It would be harder, however, to find someone who has sliced and diced his time in quite as many ways as senior Scott Savage.
As a Mustang, Savage has played first base and third base.
At times, he’s been TMU’s designated hitter; at others, he’s manned the outfield. He has done his fair share of pitching, too.
That’s why his latest role seems as simple as its two-letter designation: PO — pitcher only.
“I’ve done everything else in college baseball, why not be a pitcher only, too,” Savage said at practice Monday. “I love it.”
What’s not to love?
In Savage’s last two starts, both wins, he’s tossed a combined 13 1/3 innings and allowed no earned runs.
Last week, he was the Golden State Athletic Conference’s Pitcher of the Week. This week, he’s the hottest arm for a Mustang squad that leads the conference in team ERA and desperately needs a win, or four.
Master’s (21-16, 13-13 in GSAC) — the GSAC’s fourth-place team — hosts third-place Westmont College at TMU today at 3 p.m. Then the Mustangs go on the road to play Hope International in Fullerton on Friday and Saturday in a series with conference tournament implications.
The tourney takes five teams, and Hope is 2.5 games back of TMU. Menlo College is 3.5 back. Ten games remain.
Savage, presumably, will throw later this week, a move that feels appropriate for a player who’s been anchored to the mound only later in his career.
Savage came to TMU as a catcher from Narbonne High in Harbor City, California, where he also demonstrated his versatility.
“I caught six innings and closed the seventh,” Savage said.
As a Master’s freshman, Savage mostly served as a designated hitter. Then he pitched and hit as a sophomore, tossing 41 2/3 innings, all out of the bullpen, and seeing action at first base. He posted a career-best 3.02 ERA that season.
As a junior, Savage racked up 67 at-bats. But down the stretch, he was a staple on the mound where he ultimately pitched 66 1/3 innings and made six starts, going 6-4.
The move to pitcher-only was a mostly-smooth one. TMU coach Monte Brooks saw it coming since Savage’s sophomore year.
“As time went on,” Brooks said, “we could see he was probably most talented in the future for us on the mound.”
That’s not to say Savage was a slouch at the dish. He hit .274 with 14 RBIs as a freshman. He hit a home run as a junior. But entering this summer, the focus was pitching.
TMU’s coaching staff challenged Savage to improve his core strength and to fine-tune his mechanics so he could repeat his delivery — delivering, they hoped, greater command and less stress on his arm.
“He really took that to heart,” Brooks said.
It all appears to be coming together.
In his last two starts, Savage has shown better command of his curve ball and slider, and he’s beaten hitters in 1-1 counts.
It’s success that started when he was willing to play one position, and one position only.