06/04/04 — Sasser enjoying freshman season at ECU

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Sasser enjoying freshman season at ECU

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on June 4, 2004 1:56 PM

GREENVILLE -- Dustin Sasser couldn't have asked for a better year.

Then again, who could?

The former Charles B. Aycock baseball standout is enjoying his freshman campaign at East Carolina and savoring the benefits he has received thus far.

But those profits don't involve wins, saves, strikeouts or the number of appearances he's made on the mound. Sasser, a left-hander pitcher, has become a little more richer in the knowledge of baseball.

"I didn't think high school ball could any better with us getting to the regionals and possibly the state (finals)," Sasser said. "Fall practice is real serious here. The older guys bring you into the system and teach everything you need to be taught before the season starts.

"The coaching staff here is unbelievable. I have learned more about baseball here than I have the past four or five years."

Sasser, during his Golden Falcon days, overpowered opposing hitters with his fastball. He occasionally mixed in a curveball or slider, but relied on his speed to keep those batters off balance. Strikeouts came in abundance.

Could Sasser do the same at ECU?

"In college, you can't throw many fastballs," he laughed. "They like to smack you around."

Realizing the collegiate pitching game does not center around power, Sasser started developing his change-up and continued improving his curveball in the bullpen.

A strong weight-lifting regimen has helped as well. Sasser's fastball ranges in the upper 80-mile-per-hour range and maybe 90 every now and then. His change-up is in the low 70s and his slider registers in the high 70s.

"With the strength program and type of facility we have to work out with, everyone on the team has gotten stronger this year ... including me," Sasser said.

The out-spoken hurler has started two games this season and appeared in 19 contests overall. Sasser has posted two wins, three saves and possesses a 4.58 earned run average (ERA). He's helped combine for three of the Pirates' eight shutouts and has 32 strikeouts in 39 1/3 innings.

Sasser loves the bullpen role.

"You're usually put in tight situations," he said. "That's one of the biggest thrills of baseball where a coach has the confidence to put you in the game and all you want to do is get the job done.

"I just want to keep helping the team and do everything I can to get better as a person and player, too."

The rewards take care of themselves.