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Hooked on a Vrieling: Gonzaga's Trystan Vrieling establishing himself as a top pitcher

Once just a thrower, Vrieling has transformed into a chess player on the mound, always one step ahead of his opponent.

SPOKANE, Wash. — Third year Gonzaga pitcher Trystan Vrieling has improved every year he's been in Spokane. 

Since his first season as a Bulldog in 2020, he's seen a jump in his velocity. 

"He was throwing 90-92 when we were freshman and then a couple months later, it's like, I see on twitter 95," said Sophomore pitcher Gabriel Hughes. "Where'd that come from!?" 

The jump in velocity came thanks in large part to hard work in the gym.

"Looking back at some of the film from my Freshman year he was skinny! He had little stick legs! I'd tell that to his face. He had little stick legs," said Hughes with a laugh.

"COVID year was able to give me an opportunity to go do that training, doing weighted ball training, put on some weight and gain some strength," said Vrieling. "It was kind of a key to gaining some velo."

But, more than anything he's improved by honing in on his craft. 

"High school I was just a thrower. And then, obviously, with the help of coach (Brandon) Harmon and seeing the pitchers around me progressing into more of a pitching," said Vrieling. "Kind of like I'm going to go out there and pitch versus just go out there and throw the baseball."

In a COVID-19 shortened freshman season, Vrieling hurled 8.1 innings with one earned run.

In 2021, he saw a bigger role on the team pitching 48.2 innings with a 3.88 ERA and 66 strikeouts. Working primarily out of the bullpen.

An experience that helped him grow into the starter he is now. 

"Starting out of the pen and just gaining that, like, I have to go out there and be, in this short stint I have all or nothing here. I have to go out there and succeed in this moment or it's going to be like I could possibly blow the game," said Vrieling. "It kind of transitions you into 'Okay, as a starter you get runners in traffic. You have a runner on third base with one out. You have to get out of this jam.' It teaches you to, like, 'I have to be a dog here."

This season, he's top 20 in the country in strikeouts with 79 and has a 3.16 ERA.

He attacks hitters with an impressive four pitch repertoire. Outthinking his opponents as a meticulous pitcher. 

Once just a thrower, Vrieling has transformed into a chess player on the mound. Always one step ahead of his opponent. 

"He takes care of a lot of little details that I think a lot of pitchers would overlook, myself included," said Hughes. "I mean there's so many little aspects to mechanics or pitch calling he makes sure to look at." 

"I like to be one or two pitches ahead of the batter. Not just living in the moment," said Vrieling.

"Okay, if I throw a fastball in a 1-1 count here, if I get to 2-1 I'm going to throw another fastball, if I get to 3-1 I'm probably going to throw a cutter, if I get to a 1-2 I'm going to throw a curveball," said Vrieling explaining his thought process on the mound.

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