When he's on the mound, Ashland University sophomore right-hander Jake Baldwin (Madison Heights, Mich./Lamphere) has shown the ability to blow the ball by hitters. Baldwin has 59 strikeouts, which puts him fourth in the GLIAC.
For that reason, many of Baldwin's games have moved by quickly this season. His ascension to the level of elite pitcher didn't happen as fast. But today, there is no doubt, Baldwin is as good as the GLIAC has to offer. On Wednesday (May 8), he was named the 2013 GLIAC pitcher of the year.
This award is selected by the GLIAC coaches. There's not much to quibble about in the way of the pick. Baldwin is 6-0 with a conference-best 1.38 ERA. At one point this year, he tossed three consecutive complete game shutouts. He had a string of four consecutive starts without allowing a run. Opposing hitters have managed a .218 batting average against him. Baldwin has walked just 27 hitters.
When this season began, Baldwin's name wasn't being thrown around when the talk turned to top quality pitchers. But the AU coaching staff believed he had the kind of arm and maturity to have a big year. In 2012, Baldwin was 0-0 and pitched out of the bullpen.
Now, the Eagles are leaning on Baldwin. AU is 33-16 and ranked first in the Midwest Region. They will need him to continue pitching like he is now to make a deep run into the postseason.
Baldwin is the first Ashland pitcher to win the GLIAC pitcher of the year award since Ajay Meyer in 2011. He is the fourth AU pitcher to acquire this piece of hardware. In addition to Baldwin and Meyer, Andrew Niederst (1999) and Ryan Hartzell (2002) received the award.
In addition to the pitcher of the year award, the other annual awards and the All-GLIAC teams were announced on Wednesday.
Grand Valley's Patrick Kelly was named the freshman of the year. He's 5-3 with a 2.26 ERA in eight starts. The 2013 GLIAC player of the year is Wayne State catcher Brad Guenther. Guenther is hitting .361 with six homers and 36 RBI.
The 2013 GLIAC coach of the year is Grand Valley State's Jamie Detillion. This is Detillion's first year as the head coach of the Lakers. GVSU is 29-14 overall and won the GLIAC regular season title. Detillion is an Ashland University graduate and is a member of the school's Hall of Fame.
Baldwin was named to the All-GLIAC first team. He is joined on the first unit by senior pitcher Brad Thomas (Orrville, Ohio), junior first baseman Tyler Gray (Plain City, Ohio/Jonathan Alder) and junior outfielder Alex Sortwell (San Mateo, Calif./Canada College).
AU players named to the second team are freshman designated hitter Mackenzie Hampshire (Delphos, Ohio/Elida), senior second baseman Matt Gundlach (Monroeville, Ohio/Sandusky Perkins) and sophomore shortstop Austin Walts (Amherst, Ohio/Amherst Steele).
The GLIAC teams are selected by the league coaches.
Thomas is 10-3. He is the conference leader in victories.
Gray entered play on Thursday hitting a team-high .366. In 2011, he was a second team all-conference selection as a third baseman.
Sortwell, in his first year at AU, is hitting .333 with team highs of seven homers and 36 RBI.
Hampshire moved into the starting lineup midway through the season and is hitting .388 and has driven in 15 runs. Gundlach is hitting .346 and is 8-for-11 on stolen base attempts. Walts sports a .321 batting average and has driven in 25 runs.
Erb is second on the team in batting average (.359) and has eight doubles and 27 RBI. His .478 on-base percentage leads the club. Kaido is hitting .327 and has 30 RBI.