Ziomek's start impressive even to one of Vanderbilt's all-time greats

Tuesday, March 12, 2013 at 12:42pm

The cover boy for MLB2K13 and an avid video gamer, David Price tweeted with first-hand knowledge.

When Vanderbilt announced left-hander Kevin Ziomek had been named the Southeastern Conference pitcher of the week for the second straight week on Monday, it noted he had compiled two complete games and 28 strikeouts in those two outings.

Price, a former Vanderbilt star and the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner, simply replied: “Nintendo numbers.”

Coincidentally, Ziomek is the first pitcher to capture the SEC’s weekly honor in consecutive weeks since Price won it in three straight in 2006.

Ziomek’s numbers through the first four weeks of the season have been hard to fathom.

The Commodores’ ace has a 4-0 record with 0.87 ERA, 46 strikeouts, seven walks and just 12 hits allowed. His 46 strikeouts are one less than his total during his freshman season and more than half of last year’s total (79).

Sixty percent of his strikeouts have come in the last two weeks. On March 1, he fanned 15 Illinois-Chicago batters in a one-hit, complete game shutout for the most strikeouts by a Vanderbilt pitcher since Sonny Gray did the same against Brown in 2011. It was the first time in his career that he had gone the distance in a nine-inning game.

Last Friday, his numbers were equally — if not more — impressive considering he accomplished it against the No. 11 team in the country. He allowed just one run on two hits while striking out 13 and walking one in another complete game to lead No. 2 Vanderbilt to a 4-1 win at Oregon.

The success against non-conference opponents is an ongoing trend for Ziomek, a native from Amherst, Mass. Before this season, his previous career-high in strikeouts was nine, which he achieved against Rhode Island last March. In four non-conference starts last season, he threw 27 strikeouts.

He’ll get his first chance to cool off SEC bats this Friday, when Vanderbilt travels to Auburn for a three-game series. Ziomek’s career-high in strikeouts in SEC action is eight against Kentucky last May.

Before the Commodores (15-2) open league play, they’ll host Buffalo on Wednesday (4 p.m., Hawkins Field).