Coaches always say that playing the best often brings out the best in position players and pitchers a like. And that certainly was the case with the 6-foot-5, 225-pound Kubitza opening weekend as he twirled an absolute gem against the Cardinal, a team that features arguably the nation's sexiest arm in junior right-hander Mark Appel, who turned down the Pittsburg Pirates as the eighth overall pick in the MLB draft last summer.
"He's older and bigger, and he's up to about 225 pounds right now with that tall frame of his," Rice coach Wayne Graham said about Kubitza. "He's been through the mill, and he actually pitched well enough in the NCAA Regional last year to beat Arkansas. He looked pretty good out there."
With approximately 30-40 MLB scouts in attendance to see the two right-handers duel it out, Kubitza created some buzz in the first inning against the Cardinal when he touched 92 with his fastball. It's not so much that Kubitza doesn't have the potential to throw at that high of a velocity, but reports throughout fall workouts had Kubitza between 86-88, and sometimes getting up to 89.
Ninety-two seemed like a pipe dream just a couple of weeks ago, but from the Owls' standpoint, there's a perfectly logical reason for that dip in velocity.
"I asked him two days ago why he wasn't throwing that well in intra-squad games. Well, he's a humanitarian out there. He was afraid to hit one of our guys," Graham said with a laugh. "He didn't get above 89 during any of our practices, now he's doing this."
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