Baseball: Mike Kobitz, Aery Pratt have stepped up nicely as top pitchers in Chesterton’s rotation
By LaMond Pope firstname.lastname@example.org or 713-2691 May 11, 2013 9:40PM
Chesterton's Mitch Koblitz, left and Aery Pratt. | Andy Lavalley~Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 13, 2013 7:31PM
The task wasn’t going to be easy for Chesterton.
It never is when a team has to replace 10 seniors.
The group of graduates included the Trojans’ top two pitchers in Jake Post and Bobby Humphreys.
But Chesterton has been more than up to the challenge. And pitchers Mitch Kobitz and Aery Pratt have headlined the rotation.
“It was a learning experience for everybody, at least from the coach’s standpoint, and it’s been a great experience,” Chesterton coach Jack Campbell said earlier this week. “We’ve asked these two to be our two main pitchers and they’ve just done an incredible job.”
Chesterton entered Saturday riding an 11-game winning streak. The Trojans have an overall mark of 15-4.
“Our defense is really strong and we’ve played together and we’ve come together as a family. We all joke around with each other. We are just really close together,” Kobitz said. “It’s really fun. It’s been a great year out there. Without these guys, we couldn’t have done it. (Chemistry) has played a huge role.”
And so has the solid pitching. Kobitz and Pratt are a combined 8-3.
“I love the challenge,” Pratt said. “I love being able to go out there and throw.”
Pratt has a 2-1 record. He has 26 strikeouts in 242/3 innings.
“My mindset is to bear down and throw strikes and let the defense work,” Pratt said. “We have a really good defense. I have to do what I can to let them work.”
Pratt said he’s utilized a four-seam fastball, a two-seam fastball, curveball and a change-up.
“He has great command of all of those,” Campbell said.
Campbell said Kobitz has similar control.
“He’s able to throw strikes,” Campbell said. “Strike one is probably the biggest pitch for pitchers and he has pretty good command of all the pitches he throws.”
Kobitz worked with assistant coach Chris Smith to improve his slider.
“I used to only have a fastball, curveball and change-up. Adding the slider has benefited me on the mound,” Kobitz said. “(Smith) showed me how to grip it, how to throw it and how to perfect it.”
Kobitz leads the team in wins (six), appearances (nine) and strikeout (34). He has a 1.57 ERA.
Last week summed up his season. On April 29, he went the distance in a 4-2 victory against Portage.
“By the nature of the games being backed up, it put us in a tight situation. He did a fantastic job,” Campbell said.
“I just kept the ball down and away and I threw some curveballs,” Kobitz said. “It just felt great to have a win against them.”
He was called on out of the bullpen a couple of days later, and had 21/3 scoreless innings of work to preserve a 3-2 victory against Valparaiso.
“I kept giving them fastballs and then I would throw in a curveball and another curveball,” Kobitz said. “I was really excited to beat them.”
Kobitz said some advice from Post last season has gone a long way.
“Last year, I came in against Portage and got the job done,” he said. “After the game, I asked Jake ‘what do you do to take away the nerves?’ He told me to ‘think every time that you are better than the batter.’ Ever since then, I came out there with that attitude.”
The attitude has made for a smooth transition at the top of the rotation.
“Those are huge shoes to fill,” Kobitz said. “But we’re both very capable of taking over the role and we’ve had a lot of success doing it.”