Wednesday, April 14, 2004

For Beaver, it's a walk-on victory at XU


Non-scholarship pitcher impresses

By Dustin Dow
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Xavier freshman baseball player Tim Beaver could not wait to call his parents Tuesday night. He had more good news to tell them, continuing a trend that began in September, when the walk-on earned a chance to pursue his dream.

In the fall, Beaver called home to New Market, N.H., when he made Xavier's baseball team for the season as a relief pitcher, becoming the second walk-on in 12 years to earn a roster spot.

Tuesday, the day before Xavier's 3 p.m. game against Cincinnati at Hayden Field today, Xavier coach John Morrey told Beaver he's going to be a Xavier baseball player for the next three years as well.

"I'm calling my parents as soon as I get back," Beaver said after practice at Schmidt Fieldhouse. "It's great news, and I'm sure they'd love to hear it."

It's not just good news for Beaver, but it's also an unlikely bonus for Morrey and his staff, who conduct walk-on tryouts every fall but rarely extend invitations to players to join the team.

Morrey did not expect to offer the pitcher a spot when Beaver called him last summer, asking about tryouts.

"We've had one guy in the prior 11 years ever make it out of the tryout situation," said Morrey, who is in his 12th season as Xavier's coach. "We told him that, and frankly, we weren't that encouraging. We didn't need a pitcher in particular unless we thought it was someone who could help us win games."

In other words, Beaver's chances weren't very promising when tryouts began on Labor Day. Six-foot-three, right-handed pitchers who throw in the mid-80s aren't exactly rare commodities in Division I college baseball.

But Beaver threw strikes, and kept throwing them - fastball, changeup, breaking ball. It was enough to convince Morrey to keep Beaver around for another week and let him pitch in intrasquad games against live batters. That's where most walk-ons' dreams end.

But Beaver threw more strikes and got more outs.

"We said all right, let's see how it works over the rest of the fall, which is four weeks," Morrey said. "He did fine."

So, following practice one day, Morrey told Beaver he was on the team for at least one year. That instigated the first big call back to the parents in New Hampshire.

"As soon as they heard the news they were ecstatic," Beaver said. "They couldn't believe it."

And with the season at its midway point, Morrey has decided Beaver is good enough to stay past this season.

In five appearances for Xavier (8-22), Beaver has an ERA of 6.00, not bad for a freshman who had no opportunities to play elsewhere.

Beaver, who is on scholarship through the ROTC program, will remain a walk-on in his remaining seasons at Xavier. Morrey expects him to stay productive.

"If he increases his velocity a couple miles per hour, he'll make his life a lot easier," said Morrey, who expects Beaver to double his appearances the rest of this season. "The thing is, we didn't ... need someone. We didn't walk into that tryout saying we've got to fill this spot or we're in trouble. He made us add a player, which is pretty cool."

Today

 Cincinnati (6-25) at Xavier (8-22)

 3 p.m., Hayden Field

 Previously: XU won two of three games against Cincinnati Feb. 28 and 29.

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E-mail ddow@enquirer.com




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