Blueberg learning on the job at Nevada

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RENO - Colby Blueberg is right where he wants to be.

"I'm glad I made the decision to come in here with these guys," the Nevada Wolf Pack freshman pitcher said after tossing a shutout inning of relief in a 5-4 loss to San Francisco State last week. "This is a good group of guys. I think we're going to build something pretty good here."

The former Carson Senator standout athlete is already doing his part to build the Wolf Pack back into a winner. Blueberg has made three appearances in the Pack's first 12 games and has allowed just a run and a hit in three innings while striking out four.

"As a freshman, you don't get as much playing time as you would like but all I want to do is make sure I'm ready when I get an opportunity," said Blueberg, who played football, baseball and track in his Carson High career.

Blueberg made his Wolf Pack debut at Peccole Park with an inning of work against Utah Valley on Feb. 25, allowing a hit, a walk and a run. He has been perfect over his last two outings against Santa Clara on Feb. 28 and against San Francisco State last Wednesday, striking out four without allowing a hit or a walk in two innings.

"I felt real good (on Wednesday)," Blueberg said. "I was able to throw my curveball and slider for strikes as well as my fastball."

Blueberg, who can touch 92 miles an hour with his fastball, has already opened the eyes of the Pack coaching staff.

"He has a great chance to help us right now," said coach Gary Powers. "He has a very live arm. It just all depends on how well he adapts to the mental side of things. How much he pitches just depends on how well he handles all the little things, like holding runners on, handling bunts, handling pickoffs."

That is all part of the learning process Blueberg is enjoying right now.

"I've pitched a lot more since I got here," said Blueberg, who originally signed with Western Nevada College last January before accepting an offer from the Wolf Pack last July. "In the past I always played in the infield as well as pitched. But now I'm concentrating more on just pitching and I'm learning a lot."

Blueberg, whose father Jim (a Wooster High graduate) played in the Seattle Mariners and New York Yankees organizations and coached his son this summer with the Nevada Bullets, is just trying to soak up as much knowledge and experience as he can right now.

"In high school I wasn't really a pitcher," said Blueberg, who was 4-3 his senior year at Carson High last year with a 4.67 earned run average. "I was more of a thrower. I'd get out there and just throw hard for an inning or two.

"But I've learned a lot here already. (Pack pitching) Coach (Pat) Flury has been teaching me a lot. Coach Powers has taught me a lot and my dad helps me."

Blueberg was also one of the top hitters in the Northern 4A last spring at Carson High, hitting .431 with nine home runs and 33 RBI. He hit three homers in one game against Damonte Ranch High.

"Coach Powers came to me and said I'd likely see most of my playing time as a pitcher," Blueberg said. "I do still miss playing the field and hitting. At first (in practice) I was out there trying to get on the field any way I could. But my role right now is to pitch and that's what I focused on now."

Powers said Blueberg's role on the mound could increase in the coming weeks.

"Right now he'll be a situational guy," said Powers. "But it all depends on what he does and how other guys do. He has an electric arm. We know he can throw. It just all depends on how well he develops and how he fits into this staff right now."

Blueberg's live arm will definitely get him on the field.

"It's nice to be able to throw 90, 92 miles an hour," he said. "I'm not a starter right now. I can just come in and throw hard and let it all hang out. The more I develop my other pitches, the better I'll be."

Patience is also a big part of his development.

"Matt Gardner (the Pack's senior closer) has been a big mentor for me," Blueberg said. "He's talked to me about how I might be able to take his closer role next year after he's gone. He's given me good advice about how to handle things this year.

"If I do that and become the closer next year, that will be great. But, right now, I have to do my work and keep trying to get better and help this team when I get an opportunity."


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