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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

Most of the time, Wheeland's stuff is plenty good. When on, his fastball runs 87-90 mph and his slider can be an out pitch, capable of putting hitters away or inducing ground balls for double plays.

More than anything, Wheeland trusts the stuff he has.

“I hit my spots, let my defense work behind me,” he said. “I've got a bunch of good gloves out there, which helps a lot. You can trust your fastball and your other players, knowing they'll be there.

“When I'm not feeling the greatest, I work down, let my movement work and let my guys work behind me. And when I feel better, I'll do the same thing, but have a little better location and command.”

Walton lists three key ingredients to Wheeland's success: toughness, competitiveness and a willingness to be coached.

That, Walton said, is how Wheeland continues to thrive, on his good days and not-so-good days.

“That's a credit to the kid and his ability to compete,” Walton said. “He doesn't let his stuff get in the way of his thoughts. A lot of times, what pitchers do is their imagination kills them. ‘Well, I don't have my best fastball. I don't have my best curveball.' So immediately the thought is, ‘I'm going to get hit.'

“It doesn't matter to Vinnie. He just thinks, ‘I'm going to make sure I keep the ball down.' He controls what he can control.”

What he can't control is when or how he's used.

Wheeland has made one start, working a season-long of six innings, and gone as many as four innings five times. So he's started games, bridged games and finished games.

Overall, he's thrown 55 innings, striking out 50 and walking just 10. And he's kept damage to a minimum, allowing but four extra-base hits and no home runs.

“He's clutch,” said utility man Trey Whaley. “Vinnie, we always know when he's on the mound that we're in good hands.”