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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

Santa Barbara City College closer applies unique pitching style

In the bottom of the ninth inning with two outs and the bases loaded, every kid dreams of hitting the game winning homerun, except for D.J. Gunderson.

 Gunderson is the closing pitcher for the Vaqueros baseball team, which means he is responsible for getting the last three outs of every close contest. Closers are unlike any other player in baseball. The game could be lost if they aren’t fearless and make one mistake.

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Every closer possess a certain oddity that separates them from other pitchers, and Gunderson is no exception. Rather than the traditional over-the-top throwing style that almost every pitcher in baseball uses, Gunderson has a unique, underhand throwing motion that results in his knuckles almost scraping the dirt of the mound every time he releases the ball.

The 6’2″ sophomore grew up in Mission Viejo, California where he played his high school ball at Capistrano Valley High School.

“I was about 12 years old and I saw Byung-Hyun Kim on television. I thought the way he pitched was pretty cool, so I went out to the backyard and started throwing against the wall,” Gunderson said. “I got it down and it became a strikeout pitch for me in Little League.”

The submarine delivery baffled coaches throughout Gunderson’s career and left him few professional players to model after. Along with Kim, D.J. studied videos of MLB pitcher Chad Bradford to perfect all the little parts of the motion. When it came to improving his game, D.J. never received much advice from coaches.

“My dad has helped me a lot. He’s my best pitching coach. He’ll tell me I’m not doing this right or that I need to do this more,” said Gunderson. “It’s pretty much just me and him.”

Head coach Ryan Thompson has no problem with Gunderson’s style.

“It is funky, but you expect results because he is accustomed to that delivery.” Thompson said. “I love it actually.”

Gunderson is leading the team in earned run average and second in wins behind only Chris Joyce. He will play a huge role if the Vaqueros make a playoff run.

“We’re pretty confident because we’ve just started to play our best ball,” Gunderson said. “We still feel we can play a lot better.”

The squad took sole position of first place in the Western State Conference with its win Saturday over Hancock. They are on a six game win streak. All of which have come over WSC opponents.

The Vaqueros have five league games remaining. Their next home game is against second place Cuesta at 2:30 p.m. Thursday.

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