‘Ace Value’ – Peyton Irvin Dominating Early In Career
Take it at “face value” that Peyton Irvin has all the makings of an ace pitcher. It has taken the sophomore pitcher just one start in 2021 and just a handful overall in his early collegiate career to prove that he’s every bit as good as advertised.
Look no further than his career numbers to date in a limited sample size – 3-0 record, a 1.86 ERA, and 24 strikeouts. All this in just 29.1 innings of work and 5 total starts. The Habersham Central native lives a stone’s throw from Piedmont College, where he now stars for the Lions baseball team.
“I came in as a freshman knowing there were two available weekend spots in the rotation,” says Irvin. “I knew I was not going to be given anything; I would have to earn it. At the beginning of the spring Coach [Justin] Scali told me I was going to be the Sunday guy and it was a huge blessing and honor. I knew right then I had to get even better though not only for myself, but for my teammates as well. I knew that if I was given the opportunity I had to take it and make the best of it so my teammates and coaches could put trust in me. Some days there were some struggles when my pitches weren’t on, but instead of getting down on myself I would talk about it with Coach Scali or my teammates and they always have had my back so I knew I could go to them.”
So far, so good for the pitcher who happens to advertise his potential. The starter dons jersey number one, or “ace” as perhaps a statement to opposing hitters. Those who had a chance to keep up with his success as a Habersham Raider know that this success is nothing new.
“The biggest key to my success so far at Piedmont is no doubt my teammates and my coaches,” adds Irvin. “My teammates and my coaches push me to become a better player and person every day. My teammates play great defense behind me when I am on the mound, and they do great on offense as well putting up runs so I am able to pitch with a lead. My teammates and Coaches are no doubt the key to my success.”
That success might just be the tip of the iceberg. If his lone start so far in 2021 is any indication, Irvin might be in for something special. The number two starter in the rotation carved up Belhaven University on February 13, going 8 dominate frames. He allowed no earned runs, and just one total, and scattered only seven hits. The best part? No walks. He sat down 4 hitters on strikeouts in the process in earning his first win of the season. While this is nothing new for a guy that had this kind of success in high school, it’s always a learning curve when making that jump from prep ball to the NCAA.
“The biggest adjustment from high school ball to college in my opinion is knowing I have to execute every single pitch,” says Irvin. “Where in high school if I missed a spot, I could get away with a swing and miss. Now, if I miss a spot it is getting belted in the gap or I am getting a new ball from the umpire because it was hit 400 feet. Now instead of worrying about velocity like I did in high school, I worry about my command and how I need to be able to execute all of my pitches.”
Through the first start, and even in his 4 last season, he has shown excellent command, walking just 8 batters in 29.1 innings of work. Add in the 24 total hits, and that’s a 1.09 WHIP, which is outstanding. Still, individual success is not what Irvin desires most.
“My goals I hope to accomplish this season is for our team to bring home a conference championship,” says Irvin. “This team is something special and going to be a show to watch. My personal goals are just to stay healthy and keep competing to the best of my ability for my team.”
The optimism around the Piedmont College baseball team stems from a long-standing history of excellence. The program under current coach Justin Scali and previous coach and now- Athletic Director Jim Peeples has consistently won conference titles as recent as 2019 (regular season), and frequently can be found in the NCAA D-III national rankings. AND they have their bonafide ace pitcher fifth-year senior Sam Carpenter back for 2021. Carpenter should eclipse every major school record as a starter this season, and sports 22 career wins and an ERA south of 3.00, complete with 261 strikeouts at the time of this published article. Carpenter is the son of former MLB pitcher Cris Carpenter, so the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. That kind of talent and leadership certainly has paid dividends for guys like Irvin.
“Sam has been a huge part of all of my success,” claims Irvin. “Through all the ups and downs so far in my college career, Sam has been by my side no matter what helping me learn. Sam has been a great mentor for me through my college career. It is an honor being able to play with him.”
Irvin, like all athletes in 2020, lost essentially a full year, and was granted an extra year of eligibility to play another 4 years if he so chooses.
“With last year being cut short, staying the extra year is for sure on my mind,” admits Irvin. “I can not give a 100% answer yet, but with me living only 10 minutes away from campus it is a great possibility. I have a little bit to think about staying that extra year. Right now my mind is set on this season.”
As it should be.
Irvin was 15-6 with 3 saves in high school for his career, crafting a 1.95 ERA and striking out 135 batters. He also was a threat at the plate, batting .370 with 3 HR and 60 RBI, scoring 60 runs, swiping 25 bases, and drilling 25 extra-base hits. He was a two-time all-region player and is in the BLITZ Hall of Fame (c/o 2019).
Framed Print (11×17) – Peyton Irvin
Framed Print (11×17) – Peyton Irvin