E.A. Sports Today

Lovvorn fighting through tough year

Former Oxford pitcher has good numbers in the Carolina League this season despite still seeking first win

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Every time Zach Lovvern takes the mound for the Wilmington Blue Rocks these days he has to be thinking this is going to be the day.

It’s past the midpoint in the season and the former Oxford right-hander is still looking for his first win of the year. His next chance is Sunday against the Winston-Salem Dash.

Lovvorn, a 2012 sixth-round pick, is 0-9 with a 3.74 ERA and 1.30 WHIP in 15 games this year; teams are batting .262 against him. But the crazy thing about it is his ERA is 16th best in the Class A Carolina League and his WHIP ranks 12th.

“This season has definitely been a weird one,” he said Saturday night before charting pitches against the Dash in advance of his start. “I’m still looking for my first win and we are past the halfway mark on the season.

“It is frustrating that I haven’t gotten one yet, but it hasn’t gotten me down or anything like that. It’s actually taught me a lot about perseverance and controlling what I can control and not letting what I can’t control affect me.”

He certainly can’t control the run support he gets. The Blue Rocks, a Kansas City Royals affiliate, have scored only seven runs for him this year. They are 4-11 in the 15 games he’s pitched.

Lovvern’s last win came last August 27 in a seven-inning outing at Myrtle Beach. It’s the longest winless streak of his life. It’s not like he’s getting lit up; in his 17 appearances since that win, he has a 3.85 ERA.

“He’s that one guy we can’t get a win for,” Blue Rocks manager Jamie Quirk said prior to Lovvern’s last start, a career-high 10-strikeout outing against Lynchburg. “Every staff has a guy and he just seems to be that guy for us. I’m sure it’s killing him, which is good because he’s a competitor. I can’t remember the last time he pitched with a lead, which makes everything tougher.”

But minor league baseball is all about player development over game results and Lovvern continues to turn out quality starts that keep him around. He was, after all, the Rocks’ Opening Day starter.

“On the days I start I put the record out of my mind and just try to give my team a chance to win the game,” he said. “But the days between starts I use the record as fuel to make me work harder to get that W the next time out.”

And that next time is Sunday.

This story will be updated.

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