Saint Mary’s College find themselves right in the thick of things in the West Coast Conference this season. The Gaels sport a 21-17 record, including a 10-8 record in conference play which is good for fourth place in the WCC. They are just two games out of first place.
The main reason for Saint Mary’s success? Pitching.
The Gaels have the best team ERA in the conference at 3.20. The staff has allowed a conference low total for walks while striking out the second most batters.
Left handed SP Ken Waldichuk, sophomore and member of the Wareham Gatemen this summer, has played a large role in his team’s success.
Waldichuk is among the top pitchers in just about every pitching category in the WCC. He ranks first in strikeouts (83), second in the wins (6) and ERA (1.15) and is third in innings pitched (62.2). That’s one impressive back of the baseball card.
For Waldichuk, this remarkable season comes on the heels of a stellar freshman year. Last season, Waldichuk made 20 of his 22 appearances out of the bullpen. He was very effective in this role and posted a 2.00 ERA to go along with a 3-4 record. Waldichuk’s efforts even got him named to the West Coast Conference All-Freshman Team.
Fortunately for Waldichuk this season, he’s back in the role he loves.
“While being a reliever was fun, I prefer being a starter because it allows me to be more prepared. Out of the bullpen, you never know when you are going to pitch,” Waldichuk said.
As a starter, Waldichuk finds himself pitching with a different mindset and it’s safe to say that mindset is working out.
“This year I have to still put forward the effort, but I have to find ways to save energy in case I get into jams late in the game and have to go back to pitching like a reliever for a couple of batters,” Waldichuk said. “Out of the bullpen I would come in and have to use all my effort trying to get three or four hitters out.”
Waldichuk credits his execution for all his success this year in addition to the play of his defense. He has only allowed three unearned runs this year, which is a nod to his fielders behind him.
“I think that I’m doing a good job of getting ahead of hitters and executing pitches in big situations,” Waldichuk said. “However, I think a bigger part of my success is the great defense behind me and the bullpen picking me up when I get taken out of games with runners in scoring position.”
As for this summer, Waldichuk is looking forward to his opportunity to play for the Gatemen because it’s “a great program that will give me a chance to improve as a player.”
If Waldichuk posts numbers even close to what he’s done this season, the Gatemen will be lucky to have him on the hill come summer time.