Mick VanVossen has been waiting for this moment for quite some time.
In his third appearance for the MSU baseball team Tuesday against Notre Dame, the freshman right-hander picked up an 8-2 win, the first of his career. And for the Ada, Mich., native, it was a special moment.
“It’s definitely a privilege playing for the Green and White; I’ve been a lifelong fan,” VanVossen said. “It’s been tough the last two outings, with two no decisions. I haven’t pitched my best, but today really felt good.”
On a cold, snowy day at McLane Baseball Stadium at Old College Field, Van Vossen threw 6.3 innings, giving up six hits and one earned run while surrendering two walks and delivering two strikeouts. In his previous two starts, VanVossen was decent, giving up 12 total hits and four earned runs in 11 innings pitched.
On Tuesday, VanVossen said he didn’t do anything fancy, relying on just two pitches to capture his first win.
“I couldn’t find my slider today in warm-up pitches,” VanVossen said. “It just wasn’t there. The two-seam (fastball) was working well, and the changeup was definitely an out pitch today.”
Head coach Jake Boss Jr. said he’s been excited with the progress VanVossen has made to this point, and Tuesday was no different.
“With every start, with every appearance, he gets better and better,” Boss said. “He was able to get ahead in the count, and when he got behind in the count, he was able to fight his way back.
“His stuff is very good, so he’s going to be a good one here.”
As a freshman, VanVossen finds himself on a staff with some significant older talent, especially senior Tony Bucciferro and junior Andrew Waszak. Without them, VanVossen might be in the Spartans’ weekend rotation, but Boss said learning from the duo is best for his young starter.
“When he’s not pitching, he’s able to sit and watch those guys,” Boss said. “(He sees) how they’re successful and even the little nuances of the game — fielding his position and things like that.”
Boss said he saw some of those little things Tuesday, such as when VanVossen left the mound to successfully field a bunt in the fifth inning.
For VanVossen, the biggest thing he takes from Bucciferro and Waszak is the importance of throwing strikes early in the count and not falling behind. He also said they help him with the speed of the college game and things of that nature.
“Bucciferro and Waszak are both great pitchers,” VanVossen said. “I’m learning a lot from them, and they’ve really helped me along.”
Eventually, Boss expects VanVossen — who was drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 49th round of the 2011 Major League First-Year Player Draft — to be the one young pitchers look up to. And although he’s looking forward to when VanVossen reaches that point, Boss is going to continue to enjoy seeing him develop into what he expects to be a very good pitcher.
“It’s going to be fun to watch him.”