for CBI Great West preview
Nine Innings with Jeremy
By Phil Stanton
Valley dominated the Great West Conference a season ago, winning
22 of 24 league contests. The leader on the mound was Jeremy
Gendlek, the conference Pitcher of the Year and Newcomer of the
Year in 2011. The right-hander went 7-3 in 14 games and set a
program record with a 1.71 ERA. In league outings, Gendlek was
6-0 with a 0.41 ERA. The native of Olympia, Wash., pitched at
Western Nevada Community College before transferring to Utah
Gendlek recently took time
to answer our questions about the Wolverines.
First Inning – What did it mean to you to be
named 2011 Great West Conference Pitcher of the Year?
Being named Pitcher of the Year was an absolute
honor, especially with some of the arms I was up against in our
conference. Every team had some great pitchers, especially NJIT
who had some guys who had awesome seasons on the mound, so
putting up some of the numbers I did really shows how well our
team played together.
Second Inning – UVU was 22-2 in conference
games last year. What made the Wolverines so dominant?
We started off the season pretty slow, including
a losing streak that we would all like to forget. By the time
conference rolled around, we had a fire lit under us and we had
our eyes set on the conference championship. Making the mistakes
early in the season was somewhat of a blessing in disguise
because we learned from them and played great the rest of the
Third Inning – Did your non-conference
schedule prepare you well for league play?
Definitely. It's always a great experience to get
to play some of the top programs in the country. Although we
didn't fair too well in our early non-conference games, we
improved every week so by the time we got to our conference
schedule, we had gotten all of the kinks out.
Fourth Inning – How satisfying was it to sweep
through the Great West Conference Tournament?
When a team plays in a tournament like that, it
can always be stressful on a pitching staff. It was great to be
able to save some arms and let a couple of our seniors close out
the championship game. I wouldn't have had it any other way.
Inning – You were 5-0 with an ERA of 0.41 in six conference
starts last year. How were you able to dominate so decisively?
After a few slower starts in the early season in
the cold weather, I had improved the way I went about my job on
the mound. I wasn't getting as many strikeouts as I would have
liked but as the season went on and my confidence grew, I felt
more comfortable each outing and was able to get the job done.
We faced some great hitting teams in our conference and luckily
we came out on top at the end of the season.
Sixth Inning – Your defense posted a
fielding percentage of .971 last season. How confident does that
make you when you take the mount?
Knowing my teammates would be there to make the
outs every time gave me a lot of confidence to pitch to
contact. The days I didn't have my best stuff, I knew we would
still have a great chance to win because our defense dominated
all year. Having a defense like that behind me made my job a
whole lot easier.
Seventh Inning – You pitched for two seasons
at Western Nevada before your arrival at UVU. What were the top
things you learned there?
I was blessed to be given the opportunity to play
at a Western Nevada. What Coach DJ Whittemore did with the
program in the short time he had it was amazing. I didn't pitch
much my freshman year but we ended up being third in the country
so being able to watch and learn how to go about winning the way
the guys on that team did taught me a lot. I was fortunate
enough to be a starter sophomore year against some of the best
junior college teams in the country, so playing at that level
really got me prepared for Division 1 baseball. Being a part of
a winning program at Western Nevada made it an easy
transformation to a winning Division 1 program here at Utah
Eighth Inning – What should we expect from the
Wolverines in 2012?
Our coaching staff has prepared us for our best
season yet. I know we have the talent to play in an NCAA
regional. Our pitching staff is deeper than ever and we have a
ton of talent at the plate. Our senior class brings a lot of
leadership and experience to a team that is ready to get the
season under way and get the Utah Valley baseball program on the
list of elite college baseball teams.
Ninth Inning – Which road trip are you
anticipating most this season?
This is a toss up between Seattle U and Cal State
Fullerton. Being an Olympia, Wash. native, I'm very excited to
start our season off in Seattle. It's always great to be able to
pitch in front of family and friends who have supported me since
Day 1. Cal State Fullerton will be an awesome trip. It'll be a
great opportunity being able to play a program like theirs,
which has so much talent and history.
(photos courtesy of Utah Valley Media