By John Reed
SC Staff Writer
The ESU baseball team’s season came to a close Saturday, April 27.
The season ended with a loss in two consecutive games to Kutztown on Senior Day at Mitterling Field –9-1 and 5-3.
The second game of the doubleheader came down to the wire, ending with a pop up with runner in scoring position.
Senior Keenan Stare pitched the final 1.2 innings –giving up a hit and a walk, but striking out two to keep the game competitive and give his teammates a chance to come back.
“Personally, I’ve yet to play as well as I would like to, but I’m hoping as we continue to get deeper into the season I will be able to make a larger impact on our team,” said Stare.
“As a team, we’ve played very well. We’re getting a ton of contributions throughout our lineup with new guys stepping up in different games and situations each time out.”
“I’d like for this team to make this year’s PSAC tournament and play well enough to give ourselves a shot in the championship.
Our team is more than talented enough to accomplish these goals. We need to develop more consistency and close games out.”
Despite his success on the field as ESU’s closer, Stare does not shirk his responsibility in the classroom.
He carried over a dedicated and hardworking mentality from his time at West York high school – where he was an Honor Roll student.
“Coach K [Kochmansky] is always sure to encourage our classroom work. We hold multiple study sessions throughout the week as well as attend work shops to help us further our educational skills.”
“I always pressure myself personally to do well in the classroom and my parents had done so in my early years. I’ve taken over for them by setting challenging goals in the classroom as well as on the baseball field,” said Stare.
A couple of weeks ago, Stare set an ESU record for career saves with his eleventh in a victory over West Chester in Game 1 of a doubleheader. Stare is appreciative of the accomplishment, but is a more team-oriented player.
“In regards to holding a record at ESU, it’s neat,but it’s nothing like achieving more team-oriented goals and setting those types of records. I cherish being a part of last year’s wins record-setting team far more than I ever will this individual honor,” said Stare.
Stare is a versatile pitcher who has worn many hats during his ESU career. In each season, he pitched as both a starter and a reliever – earning at least 1 win and 1 save leading up to his senior year.
This year he has done the majority of his pitching from the back of the rotation and has found success in that role.
As a hybrid starter-closer, Stare is comfortable in pitching in any situation.
“Strangely enough, I actually prefer pitching from the wind-up. I’ve been plugged into a variety of different pitching positions over my four years at ESU, so it was never odd for me to pitch out of both the wind-up and the stretch,” said Stare.
“I’ve actually started a decent number of games in my career at ESU, but I’ve always had more success and was able to help the team most when entering games from the back-end, so I guess this is just the role I ended up in.”
Being an ESU baseball player requires an extreme level of dedication because of the grueling off-season players must endure before stepping onto the field for their first game.
The off-season begins in the fall semester, but games do not start until spring rolls around. It takes a special kind of player to stay that committed.
“We have some of the hardest working players and staff that I’ve ever encountered. It takes a special kind of person to be able to wake up at the hours we do and push through various workouts in the morning – especially for the length of time that we do it,” said Stare.
“Being a pitcher, one of my main obligations is to run and keep myself in good condition. I especially run a lot because it helps speed up the recovery time of your arm where it is essential for a bullpen pitcher to be ready to throw in multiple games.”
Stare is from York, PA – and his family still resides there. During weekend games the chances of finding his family at home are slim. That’s because they routinely make the two and a half hour trip to East Stroudsburg to watch their son play.
“My parents provided me with their undivided attention and care when growing up. They’ve always supported any sort of decision or endeavor I embrace and continue to be the most incredible people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting,” said Stare.
Having a starting pitcher’s mentality throughout high school and then being flexible enough to start and close games in college has given Stare the opportunity to emulate talented professionals on both sides of the spectrum.
“Growing up as a starter, I never quite paid any mind to many closers. You’d think the obvious answer would be Mariano Rivera, however I really try to emulate Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners,” said Stare.
“Hernandez has absolutely dominant stuff and has been one of the most consistent pitchers since entering the MLB. Though he plays on a sub-par team, he continues to put up big numbers in the wins column despite receiving virtually no run support.
His demeanor never changes despite the situation as he remains poised and confident, even if he’s in a huge jam.”
Being a pitcher for ESU hasn’t allowed Stare to have a lot of opportunities at the plate during his career.
As a graduating senior, his fortunes have changed and he now has one AB credited to him this season.
Although, it didn’t turn out as well as he would have liked.
“Coach [Kochmansky] likes to have fun just like us and often times tries getting senior pitchers at least one at-bat in their final year. Unfortunately, next to my name in the stats column you’ll see a big fat .000 average with 1 strikeout next to it,” said Stare.
“In my defense, I think the umpire may have needed new prescription glasses that day, but it was certainly a fun experience since not having hit in a regular season game since my senior year of high school.”
“My mindset of going into the at-bat was to stand as close to the plate as possible so I could catch something middle-in and try to put it over the fence – no question about it.”
In May, Stare will be graduating with a degree in Business Management, but is still weighing his options in regards to his career plans – baseball being the main concern.
“If baseball were in the cards it would be nearly impossible to step away from as it’s a game I love and have worked almost my entire life to better myself,” said Stare.
“However, if it is not, I plan on trying my hand in the healthcare administration field. I really became interested in the healthcare industry this past summer when working as an assistant to a local ophthalmologist.”
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