Small adjustments equal big results for a pair of Illini hurlers

By Daniel Collins

Tweet: #Illini baseball begins its series against FGCU tonight. Find out how Illinois’ Sedlock, Hayes earned their way to the top of the rotation.

A minor adjustment has led to upward success for Illinois’ ace.

Pitching coach Drew Dickinson and Cody Sedlock worked on a way to make the hurler more deceptive on the mound, and it’s meant big contributions so far.

Sedlock fanned 10 in Illinois’ opener against Tulane last weekend and Dickinson foresees this trend continuing. 

Dickinson made it a point to work on Sedlock’s delivery. At this point, he’s confident enough with the ace’s arsenal.     

“His front side would fly open and as a hitter — if you took still photos — the ball was just there, you could see it,” Dickinson said. “Now with his front side being stronger, the ball is hiding behind his head in a better, position. Now the hitter doesn’t see it until the last second — add that he’s throwing 94, 97 (miles per hour) and you really don’t see it.”

From club ball to D1

The No. 2 man in the rotation played club baseball at Illinois as a freshman.

Doug Hayes tried out for a spot on Dickinson’s staff during the 2014 season — he clocked in between 81-84 MPH. Dickinson saw potential in the southpaw, but recommenced that Hayes play club ball and try out again in 2015.

Hayes took that advice and earned himself a roster spot. He tossed five innings, gave up four runs, walked five and had one strikeout all of last year. The lefty’s velocity was a tad bit better than when he first tried out for the team in 2015, ranging from 82-85 MPH.

Now, the radar guns reads anywhere from 87-90 when he slings his heater.

Different from Sedlock, Dickinson didn’t credit any mechanical adjustments to that upgrade in speed. The pitching coach said it was just a matter of Hayes strengthening up his arm.   

“He put on 25 pounds in about 15 months,” Dickinson said of Hayes. “I can’t wait to see what he does this year because he’s got great stuff, and he’s just continuing to get better and scratching the surface.”

Last time out against Florida Gulf Coast

Even college kids have a curfew. The Illini found that out last year when they faced the Eagles at the Lamar University Cardinal Classic. 

After routing Florida Gulf Coast two days prior, 13-2, Illinois was dealt its only tie of 2015. Its game against the Eagles ended 4-4 due to travel curfew on a getaway day.

“They put up a battle with us in that (tie) game,” relief pitcher Nick Blackburn said. “I know they got a decent amount of guys back. From what I remember, they stayed on everything pretty well. They were able to put your best pitches in play.”

Illinois is 5-1-1 all-time versus Florida Gulf Coast. 

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