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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
May 6, 2024
Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
May 6, 2024
Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
May 6, 2024

Ryan Harris and baseball keep rolling

Who doesn’t like the taste of an aged French cheese or a delicate red wine that has been sitting in the cellar for more than a century? Simply put, there are things in life that get remarkably better with age, and the same can be said for the seniors of the Grinnell baseball team. One Merlot that certainly has the wine enthusiasts craving more is Ryan Harris ’10—the senior pitcher and captain for the Pioneers.

“First and foremost, Harris has pitched phenomenally all year. He works quickly and has given our team a very good chance to win every time he’s pitched,” said second baseman Michael Goldfien ’12. His numbers speak for themselves—a 2.06 ERA, 5 wins in 7 starts, and 29 strikeouts. 

“I think Harris has just become more consistent as a pitcher. It is very unusual for him to leave a pitch over the middle of the plate, and his change-up is one of the best pitches in the conference,” said catcher Mike Nodzenski ’12.

This fine wine delivers much more than just rosy statistics. He is also a distinguished leader and always looks out for the younger pitchers. 

“He’s a lighthearted guy, but he’s really taking things serious when he needs to take things serious, when the pitching coach can’t be around he’s taken guys under the wing,” said Coach Tim Hollibaugh. 

“I talk to Chris Eckberg [’13] a lot about being an athlete, Ben Pope [’12] I really don’t have to help very much. I’ve helped Andrew Platt [’13] because he’s a left-handed pitcher like myself, and I’ve helped Andrew Myers [’12] with his control,” Harris said.

Stamina—a new dimension to Harris’ game—has been easily adapted through a stronger commitment to conditioning. “Building up leg strength through running at least four times a week has been key, because when your arm gets tired, your legs are what helps carry you through the game,” Harris said.

This new facet of his game has allowed him to conquer his late-season struggles.

“I feel like he traditionally starts off fast, and tapers towards the end, this offseason he put great effort into getting in shape and it is really paying dividends,” Hollibaugh said. 

Harris elaborated on the two most memorable moments of his season to this point. The first came in a game against St. Thomas University in Florida, where he threw a changeup right down the middle, the batter hit a scorching line drive right back at him and the ball just seemed to find his glove.

 “I didn’t really even see it and it pretty much went right into my glove, that was definitely the most scared I’ve been during any game,” Harris said. 

The other moment came against Knox College, as there was a pop-up down the first base line, and Ryan Fletcher ’11 came running in from first base. Harris didn’t remember catching it but as he did, Fletcher accidentally elbowed him above his left eye. 

“Coach Hollibaugh tried to take me out of the game and I said absolutely not, and I ended up striking out the next guy on three pitches,” Harris said.

Besides Harris, the other three captains, Chad Takabuki ’10, Paden Roder ’10 and Brian Sollo ’10 have taken on a leadership role, Hollibaugh explained. In fact, Hollibaugh seemed pleased with the play of quite a few of his seniors. “Chad Christoff [’10] and Marshall Chavez [’10] have done a great job embracing their role in situational pitching innings,” Hollibaugh said. “And Nate Pierce [’10] has busted his behind to be able to contribute to the team this year.” 

Thanks to the play of the entire team this past weekend, Grinnell met their expectations by sweeping a doubleheader against Illinois College—10-3 and 4-0—assuring at least a tie for conference and giving them a record of 17-11. “Our pitching was great over the weekend, like it’s been over the course of the year,” Hollibaugh said.  “In that second game we just grinded it out and luckily our pitching kept us in the game,”

Despite their successes, the men know not to get too carried away and that they really need to prepare to play the same type of baseball with each game. The team’s next games come in a doubleheader Saturday, May 1 versus Monmouth College, at 1:00 and 3:30 p.m. 

“I think we all feel very confident going into our weekend series, though I think we still need to play a clean game,” Goldfien said. “As long as we don’t give away runs or fail to take advantage of our opportunities offensively, we should be fine.”

 The mentality starts from the coach, and with the positive mentality that Hollibaugh lays out it’s no wonder the team is on such a tear. 

“I don’t think we’ve got to change anything,” Hollibaugh said. “The only thing we discuss is not thinking we’re unbeatable, no matter what opponent we play.”

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