Bryan Woodall's amateur career took off when he switched from the rotation to being a closer, but he has shown that he still has the stamina and fortitude to go multiple innings in relief professionally. He's been used in stints as short as one inning this year, but stretched out to a season-high 3.2 frames in earning his first save of 2009 Thursday night in Beloit.
"In the past, I've thrown one or two innings at most. This year, I've thrown over three innings," Woodall told FutureBacks.com after a lengthy and successful relief outing. "It really all depends, I think, upon the situation of the game and I guess how I'm doing along the way, too."
Lately, he's been doing nothing but get hitters out. The Auburn product continues to excel since leaving the disabled list in early June. Woodall hasn't allowed an earned run since June 5th (spanning 18.0 innings), has not allowed a run at all in July over 9.0 innings, and has fanned a remarkable 13 batters in his last four appearances despite facing some tough Midwest League batters along the way.
"They're quality hitters, you know? Everyone here's got a good approach
at the plate, or they wouldn't be here," he mused. "I think as you move up, you see
more quality at-bats, you see guys lay off your offspeed stuff when they're
behind in the count, and they're just looking for you to make a mistake."
Thursday night, Woodall inherited a one-out, bases-loaded situation in the sixth inning leading by one, but induced a double play to end the threat and maintain a 6-5 South Bend lead. Woodall would pitch the next three innings in scoreless fashion and allow just one hit on the evening.
Beloit came right back with two runs in the bottom of the second against Jordan Meaker. Meaker, making the first start of his pro career, allowed a two-out walk to start the rally. Angel Morales followed with a RBI double and James Beresford picked up a RBI single to put the Snappers in front 2-1 after two innings. The 6-foot-6 Canadian pitcher echoed Woodall's sentiments when asked about the quality of Midwest League hitters.
"[They are] just a little bit better than compared to last year (at Yakima). I make the same pitch as last year, and they just put a little bat on it, maybe put it into play, maybe hit it a little bit farther," explained Meaker. "They're a little more disciplined at the plate than last year."
The Snappers loaded the bases with nobody out in the third, but managed to get only one run on a sacrifice fly from Jeffrey Lanning for the 3-1 lead. Meaker would leave after three innings, allowing three runs and turning the game over to the bullpen.
Beloit got a run in the bottom of the fourth against winning pitcher Daniel Vasquez taking advantage of two Silver Hawks errors. Morales reached on an error by Reynaldo Navarro to start the inning, and scored on an error by Isaias Asencio with two outs as an unearned run, pushing the lead to 4-1.
South Bend returned the favor and scored five unearned runs in the top of the sixth to take a 6-4 lead. An early error was erased on a fielder's choice, but two runs scored on a two out error by Jon Walternbury to keep the rally going. Victor Estevez added a RBI double and Alfredo Marte had a two run single to round out the scoring in the inning.
Beloit had an immediate answer, scoring a run against Vasquez in the bottom of the sixth on a RBI double from Ramon Santana. That's when Woodall took over and worked his magic, shutting out the Snappers over the final 3.2 innings.
Discuss this story in the all-new FutureBacks.com Subscriber-Only Message Boards.