La Flama Blanca

  • By DJ Jamiel
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  • April 24, 2014 09:55 AM
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West Virginia pitcher Sean Carley bears a striking resemblance to Kenny Powers, if you haven't noticed already.
All-Pro Photography/Dale Sparks Photo
Pitcher Sean Carley and fictional television character Kenny Powers share many things in common.  Blistering, right-handed fastball? Check. Goatee facial hair? Check. Majestically flowing mullet? That’s an emphatic check.
Physically, the two are an identical match as their symmetry began two years ago.
“When I got to West Virginia I decided that I wanted to start growing my hair out,” spoke Carley. “Once it got longer everyone started to tell me I looked like Kenny Powers, so I played into it.”
This, though, is where the similarities end. Powers is a brash individual, to say the least. Carley is a well-spoken, down-to-earth student athlete. Looking like the television character was never his intent. It began as a way to unwind from his time at the Air Force Academy.
“Coming from a military school, I was tired of having the shaved head so I decided to grow out my hair,” said Carley. “Once it got a little long the mullet formed and that’s when it all began.”
Carley’s time at Air Force gave him more than a buzz cut. It allowed him to construct an impressive resume. Not highly recruited out of high school, Air Force was one of the only places that offered the Melbourne, Fla., native a scholarship. His decision to attend was both academically and financially based.
“I have four younger siblings that will all have to pay college tuition someday,” said Carley. “So being able to play at such a great school like Air Force for a minimum amount of money was a win-win.”
Carley would rewrite the Academy’s record books, having one of the best seasons in Air Force history. He started 12 games with a 3.94 ERA, getting three wins with 62 strikeouts. His ERA was the lowest in the school’s history since 1983, and the lowest in the Mountain West era.
“My time are Air Force taught me great discipline,” spoke Carley. “Having said that, I was not ready to give up baseball after college, so I decided to transfer.”
Exercising his right to talk to other coaches, Carley began speaking with West Virginia coach Randy Mazey. At the time, Mazey was still at TCU, and when Mazey made the move to WVU, Carley followed.
“Being from the Mountain West, Coach Mazey knew how I threw,” explained Carley. “He also offered me a scholarship despite the fact that I could not pitch the next season, which was huge.”
In compliance with NCAA transfer rules, Carley had to sit out last season. Having just undergone Tommy John surgery, the year off for Carley was welcomed. During this time, he was also chosen in the 34th round of the major league draft by the San Diego Padres.
“The season off gave me the time I needed to work on my game,” said Carley. “With the maturity I gained from Air Force and the season off to work on my pitches, I was ready for this year.”
The 2014 season has been electric so far for Carley. Going into this weekend’s series against Kansas State, Carley sports a 2.77 ERA in his 10 appearances (nine starts) and in his 61.2 innings of work he has amassed a 5-1 record with one save.
With such success, and the Mountaineers’ difficulties in the bullpen this season, Carley has now found himself in the closer’s role. Less starts and more relief work is not a concern for the Kenny Powers imposter.
“My role has changed and I’ve been seeing some later innings,” explained Carley. “To me it does not make a difference, I want to do whatever I can to help the team win.”
This team-first attitude is another thing both Powers and Carley do not have in common. With that said, however, there is a final similarity between the two - an affinity for the fastball.
Ask Sean Carley his pitch when he needs a strike and he’ll tell you that he is throwing the ball as hard as possible. Given the same prompt, I would imagine Kenny Powers’ answer is the same, just with a few dozen expletives.

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