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Will Cobb grab UT Vol closer role?
Delmonico likes ex-FHS ace; stern Miami test follows his first successful college outing

Craig Cobb
Only nerves of steel and great location could take a young pitcher from facing Bearden High School in May to squaring off against top-five national power Miami in February.

The four-time College World Series champion University of Miami Hurricanes await a visit from freshman pitcher Craig Cobb and his UT Volunteer baseball team for a three-game set this weekend.

Former Farragut Admiral ace Cobb, already having impressed UT skipper Rod Delmonico with the precision of his pitches in addition to his calm demeanor, may ask Cobb to close the deal in 2004.

“Right now they are looking at me as being the potential closer,” Cobb said following his first two UT appearances — successfully closing out easy wins against Morehead State Friday and Saturday at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. “They’re going to try me out in Miami this weekend if it comes time and we need to close it out. Coach Delmonico told me to be ready, that he’ll probably use me as a closer against Miami.

“That’s why they wanted to bring me in in the last inning this weekend,” Cobb added. “They’ve approached me about being the potential closer.”

Having seen Cobb pitch successfully under pressure for Tommy Pharr’s Farragut Admirals during the past couple of seasons — 13-0 record with a 0.44 earned run average, 74 strikeouts and only nine walks for the 2003 state champion Admirals — Delmonico quickly changed course upon seeing Cobb during fall workouts.

“We were going to red-shirt him this year, but to kind of give you an idea, we’re not going to red-shirt him, he’s pitched that well,” Delmonico said. “He’s one of those guys that doesn’t throw real hard but he has three pitches that he throws for strikes. He seems not to get rattled at all, he’s very confident ... right now he’s one of our top arms. At least he’s proven that in intersquads (games). Now he’s got to go out there and do it against other teams. If he continues to pitch like he’s been pitching, he should see quite a bit of action.”

As for Cobb’s top pitch, “he’s got a great change-up, and he changes speeds,” Delmonico said. “He’s got tremendous location with his fastball, then it becomes a very good pitch. If you’ve got great location it makes up for the difference in velocity, I think. He throws strikes, he’s a competitor and he stays on an even-keel and he gets people out.”


In two mop-up ninth inning appearances, Cobb overcame “a lot of butterflies” and forced two ground-outs and a fly-out for a three-up, three-down performance in UT’s 11-0 win against Morehead on Friday.

“I hit my spots pretty well that night, and I just let our defense take over,” Cobb said. “We’ve got a really good defense so I feel if I let ’em put it in play most of the time the defense will back me up.”

Coming in to finish up a 29-1 laugher Saturday against Morehead, Cobb gave up a couple of two-out singles but recorded two strikeouts without a run.


If Delmonico has closing plans for Cobb, he wasn’t making it public prior to last week’s season-opening sweep.

“He’s a middle guy for us, he’s going to be in that middle spot somewhere,” Delmonico said. “He’s going to come out of the bullpen and help us.”


“My first couple of times in the fall, I didn’t really know what to expect,” Cobb said of his first days in a Vol uniform during fall practice. “I was kind of overwhelmed at first, looking around and seeing all these guys. It’s SEC baseball, it’s a big adjustment.

“But after my first couple of times out I realized that I was having some success and that if I just kept doing what I’d always done, just hit my spots and stuff, I’d be OK,” Cobb added. “That helped me get over the newness part of it. The hitters are a lot better, so you have to be better with your location. You’ve got to be smarter and have an idea of what you’re doing out there. I threw against the UT starters and had some success against everybody.”


Ex-Admiral star and senior Vol lefty Dusty Johnson is coming off a solid 2003 season, leading UT with a 3.04 earned run average that ranked ninth in the SEC. The first-team Academic All-District IV honoree also had an impressive 6-1 record last year.

“I think he’s going to do the same thing he’s done in the last three years, he’s going to be a middle guy for us on the weekend and he’s going to get some spot starts on a Tuesday, Wednesday (non-SEC games),” Delmonico said. “He’s been a very consistent pitcher for us.

“And they don’t come any better than Dusty Johnson as a person,” the UT skipper added. “Great work ethic and I just wish we had a team full of them.”

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