Panthers' crew of hurlers primed for district stretch run

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FARMINGTON – It's been a while since Mike McGaha has had such a deep pitching staff.

"Probably the deepest that we've had since 2013," the veteran Piedra Vista baseball coach said. "We definitely felt like when the season started, that was going to be our strength. And so far, our depth has definitely gotten us through the rough schedule that we've played."

The Panthers have five good arms they can call on at any time. Chase Silseth and Brendon Anderson are anchoring the rotation again, but the back end (Nate Swarts, Cody McGaha and Alex Kuhn) is carrying plenty of the load.

"Last year, (Chase and I) would go six innings, and then we'd always have to worry about that last inning. Last year, we were starting to struggle with arms (during district). Everyone was starting to get sore, labored," Anderson said. "It's awesome not having stress about pitching on the mound (this year)."

The Panthers don't have to worry about Silseth and Anderson tossing six-plus innings to ensure they win key ball games. PV also puts its trust in Swarts, McGaha and Kuhn to handle business. And that's taken a big burden off of Silseth and Anderson.

"It helps save arms. When you're throwing seven innings every game, it's going to wear on you," said Silseth, who pitched a complete game Tuesday against Cleveland to earn a 2-1 victory.

The five hurlers have accumulated 116 1/3 innings of work over 26 combined appearances (each pitcher averaging almost 4 2/3 innings per outing) this season, accounting for all 13 PV wins.

"It's absolutely been critical," Mike McGaha said.

All five are establishing good command, getting strike one and strike two early in the count.

Mike McGaha said having all five pitchers go the distance gives PV (13-7, 2-0) more flexibility to attack different locations with various pitches.

"They throw from different arm slots, they're different heights, they throw different speeds. Some guys' strength (is the) changeup, some guys' strength (is the) curveball," the skipper said, adding that opposing hitters often struggle to get in a groove at the plate.

And as the playoffs near, Silseth said the deeper rotation will pay dividends if someone were to have a bad outing in a big game.

"Alex, he comes in in relief and just shuts people down. (Cody's) been able to start that fourth game (in a weekend series) and throw strikes. When our starters get in trouble,  we have people that can come in and do their job," Silseth said.

Matt Hollinshead covers sports for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.

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