By David Boclair
Any other time, Bryce Jarvis’ performance would have been hailed as a heroic homecoming.
As it was, the Brentwood Academy graduate delivered one of the best efforts in his two seasons at Duke only to be overshadowed by Vanderbilt freshman Kumar Rocker on Saturday in the second game of the best-of-three Super Regional at Hawkins Field.
Jarvis allowed one run on five hits (he also walked four) over seven innings, which matched the second-longest outing of his career. He threw 126 pitches, which equaled his most ever for the Blue Devils. His nine strikeouts tied his second highest college total.
Most important, he confounded the Commodores to the tune of nine runners left on base, including at least one in every inning.
“Jarvis was very, very good,” Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin said. “I mean he was outstanding. The thing that made him unique was the fact that he got to three balls several times – 3-1, 3-2 – he just did not give in. He was throwing breaking pitches and change-ups in those counts and we just couldn’t pinpoint him.
“He is a special kid himself.”
Yet he was only the second best pitcher on that night. Rocker threw the first no-hitter in NCAA Super Regional and struck out 19 as Vanderbilt evened the series and forced a winner-take-all third game on Sunday.
“It’s important not to focus on what anyone else is doing,” Jarvis said. “Just stay within yourself and keep going back out there for innings and know that you can only control what you can control and not get caught up in anything else.”
The sophomore right-hander set the stage for Saturday’s performance when he threw eight shutout innings and struck out 11 in a victory over West Virginia during the regional a week earlier as Duke dealt with injuries to two of its best starting pitchers. He also threw 126 pitches in that one.
In between those outings, the New York Yankees selected him in the 37th round (1,125th overall) in the 2019 MLB Draft.
For the season, Jarvis is 5-2 and his ERA is at its lowest (3.81) since the start of conference play. He has made 19 appearances (11 starts) and leads the Blue Devils with 94 strikeouts and 75 2/3 innings pitched.
At BA, he was the 2017 Tennessee Association of Baseball Coaches Division II-AA Player of the Year and a key part of the Eagles 2017 state championship team.
“I’ve known Bryce since I was in sixth grade,” Vanderbilt catcher Philip Clarke, a Christ Presbyterian Academy product who had a single and a walk against Jarvis, said. “… He’s a great pitcher. His stuff was really working (Saturday) night. He mixes his pitches really well.
“We had a good game plan for him and he still executed.”
Photo from Duke Athletics.