Karnos commands respect, strike zone at Western Nevada

March 5, 2014
Max Karnos Baseball

Photo by Shannon Litz, Nevada Appeal

Most freshmen athletes struggle when they get to college, but not Max Karnos of Anchorage.

The rookie right-hander is unbeaten on the baseball field in four starts for JC power Western Nevada and has amassed a tidy 1.61 ERA in 28 innings.

The 6-foot-4 starter isn’t a flamethrower that pounds the strike zone with heaters, instead relying on his ability to paint corners around the plate.

“Definitely command has been a big part of my pitching,” he told me. “If I need a strike I can throw one any time.”

Karnos, of South High fame, uses a mix of breaking balls to deceive batters.

“My two-seam fastball runs in on the righty and it sinks,” he said. “I set up my pitch a lot with a curveball when I’m ahead in the count.”

He also hits his spots, which can be a fine line. Miss by a few inches and it’s a 400-foot mistake.

“My coach, DJ, he wants us to always keep the ball low, knee high, that’s what I go for,” Karnos said. “Never missing high and always missing low. When it happens it’s a pretty hard pitch to hit.”

Karnos [4-0] doesn’t throw hard enough to be considered a strikeout pitcher in college; his fastball is clocked around 85-88 mph, he said. In Alaska, he could get away with relying on his fastball more than in college.

But his sinking fastball will induce lots of groundball outs. In his last start, 13 of 21 outs were worm burners.

“I have a really, really good defensive team,” Karnos said. “It’s nice having that good of a defense behind you. It helps my game. I win because of it.”