University of Missouri-St. Louis head baseball coach Jim Brady believes there is a thin line between winning or losing baseball games.
Because winning baseball requires doing the little things correctly, such as advancing runners into scoring position, hitting the cutting man, throwing to the correct base, executing sacrifice bunts, Brady drills the games’ fundamentals into his players heads until it becomes second nature.
“For us to be successful, we have to put the ball into play, have good hard contact at the plate, move runners (into scoring position) and get them in from 3rd base with less than two outs,” Brady said.
Brady believes that his pitching staff compares well to the best staffs in the Great Lakes Valley Conference.
“Well the pitching staff is good and is back with an year’s experience under their belt. Adam Radick, Jeremy Butler, Austin Schuler, and Tomas Duffek comprise the staff. They are better because they know the league better. Adam is a great competitor and will match up against a competitor‘s number one. He sets the table, takes the ball and wants to pitch. Jeremy is consistent and keeps us in the game. He gets stronger as the game goes on and can make adjustments within the inning. Austin has the most potential to dominate teams. Sometimes he is too fine and needs to let it loose. Tomas is that crafty left-hander. Last year he got no run support. Tomas does a good job of throwing strikes. When he is on the mound there is a good chance that Tomas is going to win. He makes good pitches and if we gave him some run support, he can shut down the opposition,” Brady said.
Last year the Tritons finished in fifth place ahead of Maryville at 15-30. Brady views Drury, Quincy and Rolla as the teams Tritons must contend with in the conference. Drury has quality arms, plays good defense and is sound fundamentally, and makes no mistakes in the field or during an at bat. Quincy made the conference tournament and is well coached and has dangerous hitters, and are well conditioned. Rolla is the surprise team because they are a hustling team that pitches well and employees the small ball concept.
The Tritons have some exciting newcomers in shortstop/second baseman Beau Harris, junior, undecided, that Brady called a nice catalyst who is a table setter, center fielder Luke Matecki, junior, business, covers ground in centerfield, sophomore catcher Paul Richmond, sophomore, media studies, is a solid catcher who understands and calls a good game, has a quick release and excellent footwork, catcher Joel Ayala, sophmore, communications, has a cannon major arm that can shut down the opposition’s running game and provides excellent defense behind the plate. Ayala’s offense is improving because he swings at good pitches. Outfielder John Pilackas, junior, nursing & education, provides power and comes from a winning program at Southwestern Illinois Community College.
Brady also has returning third baseman Charlie Mohr, junior, undecided, who supplies a steady veteran influence and a left handed bat. Third baseman Trevor Nathanson is an solid fielder and outstanding right handed hitter/DH from California.
Matecki, said that while Brady is demanding he gets the best out of his players.
“Because we play small ball, we have to keep our heads in the game. And he drills the situation into our heads to remind us where to be at all times. Coach Brady pushes us to the limit but gets the best out of his players,” Matecki said.
Left fielder Drew Standefer, junior, nursing, is a believer in Brady.
“I love playing for coach Brady. He will not settle for nothing but the best. Coach Brady is experienced and has been around. He has coached great teams before and knows what it takes to get the job done,” Standefer said.
Pitcher Austin Schuler, junior, media studies/advertising, said that he will be prepared for his starts.
“Basically my approach is to go after guys. I will be prepared for situations because of the scouting reports. I will know the hitters strengths and attack their weakness,” Schuler said.
Picked to finish sixth in the conference, Brady feels game experience will make UMSL a contender.
“If the players focus every inning the game will take care of itself. I want us to score one run every inning. If you do not give away outs and eliminate multiple run innings, we have the ingredients to be successful. (It is just a matter of the players) believing in themselves. If we execute the fundamentals, everything will be all right,” Brady said.
Leon Devance, staff writer for The Current.