The 18th ranked Rowan baseball team began conference play this past weekend by sweeping 25th ranked Kean University in a doubleheader on Saturday. Rowan won both games by scores of 13-2 and 4-2, respectively. A big part of the team’s success, once again, was the performance of fifth-year pitcher and co-captain, Drew Ryback.
Ryback pitched in the first game against Kean, marking his third start of the season. Ryback pitched a complete game in the 13-2 victory, tying his career high for strikeouts with nine for the second time this season, and only allowing one earned run.
The performance earned Ryback New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Pitcher of the Week honors for the second time this season, with Rowan only having played games for three weeks. Ryback, however, still insists that the awards are the last thing he is concerned with.
“Awards really just kind of come and go. I’d rather just win the conference, to be honest. It’s more of a team goal than anything for myself,” Ryback said. “You don’t get a shirt or a ring for winning pitcher of the week, you know.”
Ryback’s focus on the success of the team has not gone unnoticed, and Head Coach Mike Dickson said that the best way he can help the team is to stay on his current path.
“I think he would say, as well as I [would], he’s just got to keep on doing what he’s doing. He’s eliminating freebies, he’s not walking the other team, he’s throwing strikes,” Dickson said. “I think his biggest goal is a team goal. I think any individual goals for him align with our team goals.”
Ryback’s ability to pitch a complete game in the first game of a doubleheader is an example of how a great individual effort can help the team as a whole, explained Dickson.
“It’s critical for our starters to get deep into games,” Dickson said. “Drew’s pitch count wasn’t too high. We knew he was going to have a week off. So him giving us a complete game in game one really allowed our bullpen to be fresh in game two, although Eli [Atiya] threw great as well. But, it helps us out tremendously as a team and coaching staff for game two,” Dickson said.
The impressive performance came after the team lost 11 days prior to Penn State Abington by a score of 9-8. Ryback started in that game as well and allowed five earned runs in 4 1/3 innings, but the loss provided the team with an important learning moment, Ryback explained.
“That was a tough loss for everyone. We went in expecting to kind of roll over them and that just can’t happen. You can’t overlook teams,” Ryback said. “So we, you know, kind of all went back to the drawing board and prepared for Kean. We prepared better, so we performed better. It’s that simple.”
The team is now preparing for a slate of four games this week, with two games against both New Jersey City University and Rutgers-Newark. The team will travel for the first game against New Jersey City University on Thursday, before returning home to play them again on Friday and then a doubleheader against Rutgers-Newark on Saturday.
For comments/questions about this story, tweet @TheWhitOnline.