Cudzilo aims for consistency

May 16, 1994|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,Sun Staff Writer

Mike Cudzilo's 78-mph fastball lacks the velocity of some other pitchers around the league, but his effectiveness ranks with the best.

In 52 innings the 6-foot, 170-pound senior right-hander has a 1.88 ERA with 38 strikeouts and just 11 walks. He has allowed 39 hits.

Those numbers should have produced a won-loss record better than 5-3, but Mount Hebron (9-7, 7-5) hasn't hit as well as expected and the defense at times has fallen apart. Cudzilo's two best efforts resulted in losses.

Take Wednesday's 2-0 loss to 14th-ranked Glenelg, for instance. Cudzilo pitched a complete game, allowed just four hits and one earned run, walked none, struck out six and came away with a 2-0 loss.

One Glenelg run scored on a home run, and one run scored on an error and two passed balls. He held two Glenelg sluggers, Mike Goldberg and Mike Deming, hitless.

"He's steady, consistent and knows how to pitch," Vikings coach Dave Appleby said. "He's blossomed as a pitcher. He's getting better with every outing."

Cudzilo credits Brian Bark of Grand Slam, a Woodlawn batting cage, with his pitching improvement this season. Last season Cudzilo was 2-3 with a 4.50 ERA in 35 innings.

"He helped improve my curveball and the location on my fastball," Cudzilo said. "And it also has helped to be pitching regularly in a rotation this season."

Cudzilo throws a fastball, curveball and forkball and mixes speeds and locations to keep hitters off balance.

His best effort, a one-hitter against 13th-ranked Atholton, also ended disappointingly in a 1-0 defeat.

In seven innings he struck out eight, walked one and was in total control except for a second-inning home-run pitch to Derrek Schneider.

"I had all my pitches working for me in that game," Cudzilo said.

Cudzilo's other loss, 4-1 to South Carroll, also could have ended differently. All four of South Carroll's runs were unearned. They scored on two two-out errors, a bunt single, a triple and a passed ball.

His victories have come against Oakland Mills, Howard, Hammond, Linganore and Wilde Lake.

In the 7-0 win over Wilde Lake, he pitched four innings of no-hit ball. He also pitched seven innings, but had no decision in another game against Wilde Lake, an 8-7 loss. He allowed one earned run in that game.

He's been pitching since he was 7, including three seasons with the Dayton Raiders for whom he posted an 8-3 record one summer.

He'll play for the Raiders again this summer in the Baltimore Metro League along with some of the county's top players.

Cudzilo also can hit and he plays shortstop when not pitching. After batting .357 and making the all-county team last season at third base, his hitting started slowly this season. But he's coming out of his slump and with two games left he is hoping to finish batting around .300.

As with his pitching, his fielding is dependable, not flashy. He's made just one error at shortstop.

"He's not really a shortstop, but we needed one and he's fielded everything he's gotten to," Appleby said. "He's a quiet kid who just goes out and does his job."

Cudzilo will study engineering at the University of Maryland next fall and he hopes to make the baseball team as a walk-on.

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