|’Birds catch break away from ISU|
|Written by Todd Marver, Daily Vidette Senior Staff|
|Tuesday, 10 July 2012 17:10|
Baseball players participate with ease in league teams during summer months, transitioning from one field to another with different teammatesIt has been about a month and an half since Illinois State baseball’s season ended with a 10-3 loss to Creighton May 24 at the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Baseball Tournament, but the players have continued to go at it on the diamond with their summer league teams.
A quartet of pitchers: senior Chris Razo, juniors JD Learnard and Cam Verbeke and sophomore Dan Savas have continued to stick together during the warmer months with the Lexington Snipes.
Learnard has not earned a decision in four relief appearances of 4.2 innings of work with a 5.79 ERA. Verbeke (0-0) has yet to give up a run in three relief appearances with six innings pitched and has recorded a save.
Razo (3-2) has made five appearances, all starts with 28.2 innings pitched, a 4.40 ERA and two complete game shutouts. Savas (2-1) has accumulated a 4.84 ERA and 22.1 innings pitched in six appearances with five starts.
Three other ISU players are together with the Oneonta Outlaws based out of Oneonta, N.Y. including sophomore pitcher Jeremy Rhoades, senior pitcher Matt Schmitt and senior third baseman Zac Johnson.
Rhoades (0-0) has recorded two saves in 10 relief appearances with a 2.20 ERA in 16.1 innings of work. The Wheaton native believes he has the best of both worlds this summer because he is playing with two of his ISU teammates on the Outlaws, but he also has the opportunity to play with athletes from all over the country on the team.
“It’s nice to have that familiarity with teammates and those are the guys you can go to when times are tough,” Rhoades said. “But it’s also nice to go out and meet new guys and learn new things from them to get a different perspective.”
Rhoades believes the benefits associated with playing out in New York this summer outweigh the negatives.
“It’s just tough to be away from home,” he said. “You get homesick and don’t get to see your friends and family for a while. But I can come out here and learn so many different things from so many different people. I am able to improve myself as a player and learn so many different perspectives of the game.”
Schmitt has a 1-2 record in six appearances including one start with a 4.50 ERA in 16 innings of work. Johnson has earned a .313 batting average with 13 RBI and 13 runs scored.
Senior right fielder Eric Aguilera holds a .387 batting average with three long balls, 19 RBI and 16 runs scored for the Lakeshore Chinooks from Mequon, Wis.
Redshirt freshman Paul DeJong is playing for the Will County Cracker Jacks out of Romeoville and has a .213 batting average with a home run, 10 RBI and 11 runs scored. After playing shortstop at Antioch High School in Antioch, DeJong is transitioning into a new role as a catcher.
“It was a challenge getting back into game mode after sitting out for a season but it’s all coming back now as I play more summer games,” DeJong said. “I am also getting good game experience as a catcher. I feel more comfortable after each game I catch. I am ready to get back to ISU to show what I can do and compete for a starting spot.”
Fellow redshirt freshman Brian Rodemoyer has a .200 batting average with a long ball, two RBIs and three runs scored for the DuPage County Hounds from Lisle. Rodemoyer and DeJong had the chance to face off against one another when the Will County Cracker Jacks defeated the DuPage County Hounds 6-5 on June 2.
“[Rodemoyer] only played in one game against me, but it was definitely a change of pace playing against one of my teammates,” DeJong said. “I also played against some of my former and future teammates, which is good to catch up and compete with some of my friends.”
Senior first baseman Kyle Stanton has a .361 batting average with a home run, 10 RBIs and nine runs scored for the Alton Indians from Alton. Sophomore Johnny Lieske (1-0) is pitching for the New Bedford Bay Sox in New Bedford, Mass. and has made eight relief appearances recording a save in 15.2 innings of work with a 3.45 ERA.
Redshirt freshman Joe Kelch has a .309 batting average with a home run, 12 RBIs and 19 runs scored for the Quincy Gems based out of Quincy. Senior shortstop Brett Kay is with the Thunder Bay Border Cats from Thunder Bay, Ontario in Canada, and has a .293 batting average with a home run, 16 RBIs and 24 runs scored.