Baseball: Libertyville’s Townsend to pitch at Augustana
Libertyville's Darwin Townsend (21) delivers a pitch in the first inning of their game against Mundelein in Mundelein Wednesday. May 2, 2012. The Wildcats won the game 5-3. | John Konstantaras~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 8, 2012 3:50PM
Wednesday turned out to be quite the day for Libertyville senior pitcher Darwin Townsend.
First, Townsend threw six shutout innings against rival Mundelein — and allowed just three hits — to keep the Wildcats (15-8 overall, 6-2) in the hunt for the North Suburban Conference Lake Division title, just a game behind the Mustangs (21-4, 7-1).
Each club has four division games remaining.
After the game, he told reporters he’s verbally committed to pitch next season at the college level, for Division III Augustana, in Rock Island, Ill., once he graduates.
A member of Augustana’s coaching staff was even on hand to witness Townsend’s performance — one Libertyville coach Jim Schurr thought was among his best this season.
“He (Townsend) got the leadoff hitter out in the first four innings,” Schurr said. “The way Darwin’s throwing the baseball, he didn’t strike everybody out, but he hit his spots and got all of his pitches over four strikes.”
As a 6-foot-2 195-pound right-hander who features a fastball that tops out at 83-84 mph, curveball, slider and change, Townsend is already difficult for opposing teams to lock in on and hit. But the fact he has true command of all of his pitches most outings is what makes him especially dangerous.
“He’ll throw any pitch in just about any count and get it over for a strike,” Schurr said. “When he came up his sophomore year, I told him, ‘we’ve all got different styles and philosophies, and a pitcher’s got to be able to mix things up and have the confidence to use all your pitches.’ You can’t pitch to hitters’ counts and give them what they’re looking for for all the time on 2-0 or 3-1 — or be afraid of walking guys. That’s when hitters are sitting fastball.”
Midway through last month, Townsend missed two weeks due to inflamation in his right elbow, but he has started three games since. On Wednesday, he was removed after nearing 90 pitches.
In an interview last month, he told Pioneer Press he felt comfortable on the mound, like he “belongs there.”
“I try to take every game the same — just go in there and do what I can do, and pitch how I pitch, to help my team win,” Townsend said. “I’m just comfortable out there.”
During his team’s 5-3 road victory over Mundelein, Townsend was involved in one of the more unusual plays in the game of baseball. Mustangs pitcher Matt Langlie was called for a balk, yet followed through on his delivery on a pitch to Townsend, who belted the ball over the fence for what he thought was a two-run home run.
It was disallowed, however, due to the balk ruling.
“In the big leagues, when a play like that occurs, you get your option (of whether or not you want to keep the home run),” Schurr noted. ‘In the big leagues, that’s a live play ... it’s a continuation play, like basketball. You play the play out, and take your choice of which result you want.”