Oklahoma State baseball: Vince Wheeland is the Cowboys' go-to guy

Wheeland embraces his role as spot starter, long reliever, short reliever and closer.
By John Helsley Published: April 24, 2013
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photo - OU / OSU / BEDLAM COLLEGE BASEBALL: Oklahoma State's Vince Wheeland throws a pitch during the Bedlam baseball game between the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University at the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City, Sunday, May 6, 2012. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman
OU / OSU / BEDLAM COLLEGE BASEBALL: Oklahoma State's Vince Wheeland throws a pitch during the Bedlam baseball game between the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University at the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City, Sunday, May 6, 2012. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman

Vince Wheeland understands and embraces his role on the Oklahoma State pitching staff.

Be ready.

For anything.

At all times.

That's literally Wheeland's job description, as the pitching equivalent of a utility man — utility pitcher? — answering every conceivable call: spot starter, long reliever, short reliever and closer. And not simply as some mop-up guy.

As the Cowboys' go-to guy.

“I like being the guy they can count on,” said Wheeland. “It's whatever they want me to do. I'll go out there and do it.”

And get it done.

A junior from Turlock, Calif., Wheeland stands 8-0 with a save, tied for the Big 12 lead in wins and carrying a 1.64 earned run average that ranks fourth in the conference. In a year when OSU has often pieced together its pitching plan due to injuries, he's reliably completed the puzzle, appearing in 20 of the Cowboys' 39 games and playing a key role in 14 of the team's 28 wins.

“He's our most valuable guy. Period,” said OSU pitching coach Rob Walton. “He's our most valuable pitcher.”

And he'll surely be needed this weekend, when the Cowboys head to the TD Ameritrade Classic in Omaha, taking on Rutgers, Creighton and Nebraska (twice) in series of games that could bolster their NCAA Tournament chances.

Wheeland doesn't so much wow with his stuff as his results. And his mentality.

His greatest asset may be a bulldog approach that works for him on even the shakiest of days, like Saturday, when he held Kansas State scoreless for the final 2 2/3 innings while the Cowboys rallied for a 7-6 win.

“Vinnie's just a stopper,” said OSU center fielder Saulyer Saxon. “He's going to go out there and compete every day. Some days he doesn't have his best stuff, but he'll throw it up there 82 and get people out.

“We're like, ‘How does he do it?' He just competes. He just finds a way. And it's awesome. As soon as he steps on the mound, everybody's energy goes up. Everybody gets excited and knows that he's going to go up there and give you his best. And we have confidence that it's going to be enough.”

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