St. Mary's tames Cyclones
St. Mary's ace pitcher Eric Wordekemper delivered a major league performance against Alta on Wednesday night, as the senior struck out a season-high 17 in a complete game 7-2 victory over the Cyclones.
Wordekemper, who was not selected in this week's Major League Baseball draft, allowed only three hits and made only one significant mistake in the ballgame, giving up a two-run home run to Alta's Dru Leyden.
The Panther hurler also had control of his pitches in the contest, walking no Cyclones, and St. Mary's coach Ryan Berg said that helped Wordekemper pitch one of his best games of the 2002 campaign.
"It was a better performance than some of the previous times this year," Berg said. "He threw more pitches with better accuracy and he was able to change speeds. He got his curveball established early on in the game, and I think that helped him a lot."
"It was nice to be able to have a game like this," Wordekemper said. "I was feeling pretty good throughout the game and I was able to get the curveball working pretty well. I was pretty happy with the game."
The outing by the senior fell two strikeouts short of his career-high of 19 strikeouts for a game, but Berg said the effort on the mound was just what the Panther defense, which had made several defensive errors in the previous games, needed.
"When you have a guy strike out 17 it helps out in the field a bit," Berg laughed. "We made only one error, and that was on the first play of the game, so we're playing better in the field, and having pitching like Eric's performance helps us out a great deal too."
Berg and the rest of the Panthers will get the chance to see similar outings from their ace for the rest of the summer, as the senior was not selected by any MLB clubs in the draft. While Wordekemper had been expecting a call from one of the 30 big-league teams this week, he said he wasn't disappointed by his fate in the draft.
"I kind of thought I would be picked, just from the exposure that I've had and talking to different people, but it didn't bother me too much to not get picked, because I was in a win-win situation," Wordekemper said. "I'm here on a good team at St. Mary's, and I'll be going to a good team at Creighton, so I'm pretty happy with everything. I can relax now and just concentrate on helping this team this summer."
Wordekemper, who also played basketball for four years and ran track for three years for the Panthers, signed with Creighton University of the Missouri Valley Conference last fall, and Bluejays coach Jack Dahm said he thought the St. Mary's star could make an immediate contribution to CU's staff, which features first-team all-MVC pitchers Tom Oldham and Steve Grasley.
"We've been watching Eric develop for a couple of seasons, and we know he has the ability to join our rotation as a freshman," Dahm said. "His passion for the game and his pitching ability make him an exciting player to bring in."
"I really liked it when I visited the campus and players, and they offered me a great scholarship, so it was something that I felt I couldn't really pass up," Wordekemper said. "I've been working pretty hard on my breaking ball and changeup to get ready for next year. I've still got a lot of work to do, but I'm looking forward to it."
Before arriving on campus in Omaha next fall, however, Wordekemper said he has another destination in mind: Carroll, home of the 2002 1A state baseball championship.
"I really want to make it a good last summer and make the best of it," Wordekemper said. "I'd love to get to state. It's my fifth year and I haven't gotten there yet, so I'm really anxious to be able to make it there, and I think this team can do it."