ROCHESTER — Dylan Fosnacht's right arm, contrary to the collective assumption of the online community, has not fallen off, but the Rochester senior is getting a kick out of the attention he's received since throwing 194 pitches earlier this week.
Fosnacht started the Warriors' District 4 1A Baseball Tournament opener against La Center on Tuesday. He struck out 17 and allowed seven hits, two of which started the 15th inning and prompted coach Jerry Striegel to go to the bullpen.
Rochester went on to win 1-0 on a drag bunt in the bottom of the 17th inning, but the magic number that has turned Fosnacht into an internet sensation — and brought online criticism of Striegel — was the right-hander's final pitch count.
"I quite honestly didn't know it was that number," Striegel said, "but I'm surprised at the number of people that have really gotten concerned."
The story has been picked up by The Associated Press, Sports Illustrated, ESPN and Deadspin.com, among others. Fosnacht checked his phone and saw a tweet from Tampa Bay pitcher David Price — the 2012 American League Cy Young award winner — on Wednesday, and was stunned when he entered his own name into a Google search on Thursday morning and saw over 2,000 results.
"I didn't think it'd blow up so much," he said. "I was expecting maybe stories from (The Chronicle), or The Olympian. Not ESPN."
And his arm?
"My arm is fine. It's, like, a little sore, but nothing I haven't felt before," he said on Thursday. "I've felt worse."
Fosnacht and La Center pitcher Trevor Roberson were locked in battle for 12 innings before Roberson was removed from the game with a final line of two hits, 13 strikeouts and no walks.
"I loved it. Like, it was a great pitching duel," Fosnacht said. "Their guy was going 12 and we were going at it each inning. It was fun."
Josh Larson put down a drag bunt, with La Center's third baseman standing behind his bag, to score the game-winning run with two outs in the bottom of the 17th inning.
Fosnacht's pitching quickly overshadowed the outcome.
"I think I was doing really good. I was in the strike zone almost the whole day, and the curveball was working," he said. "I didn't lose velocity at all."
Dustin Wilson — the Warriors' ace pitcher, who caught Fosnacht all 14 innings and relieved him in the 15th — agreed.
"He had pretty much the same velocity through the entire thing. He never once acted like he was struggling or in any pain," Wilson said. "He was doing a good job, even into that inning, throwing strikes, and they put the ball in play, which was what Striegel took him out for. I really wasn't worried about him."
Would Striegel do it over again?
"I guess I never really looked at it from that standpoint. Looking at the situation, I probably would have done the same thing," Striegel said. "Yeah, I regret that I went 194, just because of the issues it caused. I felt confident I was doing the right thing at the time."
Striegel, since Tuesday night, has been the subject of a handful of less-than-flattering tweets and blog posts, but said Thursday that there hasn't been any negativity from within the Rochester community.
"I called the superintendent, and notified her that 'You could hear something,'" he said. "No one's made any comment to me in a negative vent, other than through Twitter."
He's been a teacher for 35 years and a head baseball coach for 20, including a 12-year stretch at Tenino. He led the Beavers to the 1986 state championship and led the Warriors to the 2008 state championship.
Chris Bishop, now a junior starting pitcher for Pacific Lutheran University, is one of Striegel's most decorated former players. Bishop won two league MVP awards during his prep career in Rochester, and threw the first nine-inning no-hitter in PLU history earlier this spring.
"Honestly, Jerry's a great coach, and he's got a lot of knowledge about baseball. I'm sure he knows what he's doing with pitch counts and stuff like that," Bishop said. "I had full trust in him when I played for him, and I still do."
Bishop followed along with Tuesday's game on Twitter. The pitch count was high, he said, but he could relate.
"I could see where Striegel's coming from," Bishop said. "He would do the same thing with me, talk to me every inning, and if I ever had any concerns or anything, he would always be like, 'Yeah, we'll get somebody else in there.'"
Wilson held a similar opinion of his coach.
"He does a great job of making sure kids' arms are feeling okay, always asking 'Is your arm hurting?' and makes sure the next day we get a lot of extra running in," Wilson said. "He limits us in what we do during practice the next day, which is something most coaches won't do."
Fosnacht certainly had no complaints.
"Striegel's a great coach. He knows what he's doing," Fosnacht said. "I felt good. He kept asking me if I was feeling fine, if my arm was okay. I wouldn't lie to him, and I told him I felt great."
Striegel's only concern was that the players not take anything they read online as an attack on their own play or work.
"No one's criticizing that Rochester baseball's a bunch of 'All we care about is winning' (guys),'" Striegel said. "Really, their criticisms are not of them, they're of me. That's what we need to keep in mind, and we just go play baseball."
Fosnacht stands 5-foot-8, weighs 142 pounds and throws a fastball in the low- to mid-80s.
He's been a starting middle infielder for the Warriors since his freshman year, back when Bishop was the team's star pitcher.
"He's a dirt dog. He's the kind of kid that'll go out there and do whatever it takes to win," Bishop said. "I see so many guys go out there and they throw their 100 pitches and they're done. Dylan really brings a sense of pride, and he really shows that on the field, with his play."
He's the type of kid coaches call a gamer; small, scrappy infielder, a pitcher only out of necessity. If he plays college ball, it'll be his glove, not his arm, that earns him a spot.
"I'm not really surprised with what he did on Tuesday," Wilson said. "I knew he had that competitiveness in him to go through and do that."
Fosnacht said he'd never pitched more than seven innings, and never struck out more than 12 players in a game, prior to Tuesday — after which one of the main criticisms online was that Fosnacht's pitching future was put in jeopardy. He shrugged off the notion.
"I wasn't planning on being a college pitcher," he said.
He'd thrown 29 innings heading into Tuesday's game, in six appearances, which works out to less than five innings a start. That's hardly the workload to wreck an arm, much less an arm owned by an 18-year-old gamer with no plans to pitch beyond May 31.
"I wanted to go the whole time. I felt like I could have," he said. "I wasn't feeling any pain or anything during the game."
Put in the same situation, he said, he'd happily throw another 194 pitches. He's enjoying the notoriety, and hasn't written off the idea of tattooing the number 194 on his arm at some point.
"I'll be talking about this to my kids and stuff," he said. "It'll be a great memory."
For now, the players are taking the distraction of the 194 ordeal as lightly as they can.
"It is a big deal, because it's bringing attention that we don't want towards us," Wilson said. "But at the same time, it's probably going to propel us to stay focused."
Rochester faces Woodland on Saturday, in the District 4 championship game at Castle Rock. Wilson, who wound up throwing 10 total innings on Tuesday, is the most likely starter.
Fosnacht's next opportunity to take the mound may come on May 24, during regionals at either Castle Rock or Anacortes, depending on the outcome of the district title game.
"I would like to think that by next Saturday, he'll be ready to go," Striegel said. "If we think at regionals he'll be the No. 2 guy, he'll throw in that second ballgame, if we make it to the second game of regionals.
"And I would anticipate him to be ready."