PITTSBURG — Everything has been working for the Pittsburg State club baseball team, as the Gorillas return from a showcase tournament in Florida ranked No. 8 in the nation.
With half the season remaining, PSU player-coach Nate Grimaldi said they will have to keep pace.
I think that if we play like I know we can, we have a good chance to lock up conference early,” he said. “I think the key will be to maintain focus and keep our intensity up. The only thing that could stop us is mental mistake or psyching ourselves out. We know our team can do it, it just all starts mentally.”
Now on the verge of clinching the conference championship, the Gorillas believe this could be their year to make the World Series hosted at Jaycee Ballpark in Pittsburg.
“This year is truly special,” Grimaldi said. “It was just a few guys, including myself, who started this three years ago, and we didn't really know what we were getting into. We’ve come a long way since then. We made it to regionals that first year, while we were still trying to figure out what we were doing, and now we're slowly becoming a powerhouse in DII club baseball.
“We still have six of those original guys that are still part of it, so it's really special for us,” Grimaldi said. “Coming from nothing to being expected to play in the World Series in May here is amazing. We expect it our self to more than anyone else.”
Grimaldi credited the program’s commitment to developing pitching for the Gorillas’ meteoric rise.
“We have three great starting pitchers, and they’re all lefties,” Grimaldi said. “You don't see three strong lefties hardly anywhere in club baseball, so we’re not a easy team to beat by any means. We really do lean on our pitching and our ability to manufacture runs. We have guys who play a lot of baseball and kind of understand what it takes to do anything to get a run in, so we’re not just slugging but we get good at-bats and bunt guys over to make the job easier for the pitcher. If we can put up four to five runs we usually will get the win.”
For the Gorillas to earn a spot in the World Series, they will have to defeat their rival in the region Ohio State.
“Ohio State is in our division, and they beat us the last time,” Grimaldi said. “They’re typically the powerhouse of our division. Last time we played them i think they beat us 2-1 so were hoping to get them back.
Regardless of how far they make it, Grimaldi said the Gorillas are enjoying every minute of the ride.
“It's humbling to be ranked No. 8 in the country,” he said. “We’ve just been really lucky for several things to go our way, because we’re not recruiting or offering scholarships. Our players joined the team because they want to play, and there just so happened to be a lot of talented guys on campus at PSU. I’ve seen the tradition and culture of our team be built from the ground up, so I’m excited to see where it goes from here even after I’m gone.”