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Matt Schmitz go-go-goes
By Ben Knoester
Matt Schmitz
Matt Schmitz

When Calvin baseball coach Jeff Pettinga calls on junior relief pitcher Matt Schmitz to take the mound, chances are the game is tight.  Check that, the game is usually really tight.  "When I get the call to go in it's usually a pressure situation," Schmitz said.  "Maybe the bases are loaded with no outs or something along those lines.

When I take the mound, I try to throw nothing but strikes.  I don't want to walk anyone because often times that means giving up a run.  I kind of perform damage control and I try to make sure nothing serious happens."

This spring, Schmitz performed admirably in extinguishing the fire of opponent's offensive rallies as he collected a team-high four saves while posting a 5-2 pitching record with a 2.97 ERA.  The right-hander led the Calvin pitching staff in appearances with 19 while striking out 18 batters and walking only 10 in 33.1 innings pitched.  During one mid-season stretch, Schmitz hurled 12 consecutive innings of shutout relief.

As a sophomore, Schmitz was 3-1 with three saves and a 4.69 ERA.  His three saves led the team last year.  Schmitz also led Calvin with 24 appearances on the mound that year throwing for 30.2 innings.  He struck out 15 batters and recorded seven walks.

As a freshman, Schmitz was 2-1 with a 4.90 ERA.  He had two saves that year in 29.1 innings of work.  He also made a team high 18 appearances with 17 strike outs and seven walks.

While primarily a starting pitcher at Ionia High School, Schmitz has been a reliever since coming to Calvin.  "In high school I started games and pitched all the time," remembered Schmitz.  "I would always max out my innings every single week."  In fact, Schmitz has a bit of a reputation as having a "rubber arm."  Teammates and coaches have found that Schmitz can throw pitch after pitch and not wear down.  "Once I came to Calvin I told coach I was used to pitching all the time; he soon realized I could pitch for a long time and not lose my velocity or control."

His rubber-arm has also earned him the nickname "Inspector Gadget" after the cartoon character with the "go-go-gadget" arm.  "The guys started calling me that on our spring trip," said Schmitz with a grin.  "When we got back to Calvin, our public address announcer Ernie Krauth would play the theme song over the loudspeakers every time I entered a game."

While a relief pitcher for now, Schmitz knows that his role could be changing sometime in the near future.  "Right now I'm used to relief pitching and fast preparation.  Next year about half of our pitching staff will be gone because of graduation.  I think I'll be starting if we can find others that can fill what I currently do.  We have a lot of talent on our pitching staff though. There are guys who don't play that much that could start for most other teams.  I would be fine being in a starting or a relieving role."

A double-major in biochemistry and economics, Schmitz carries a 3.72 grade point average.  This spring he received first team Verizon Academic All-District honors, becoming the first Calvin baseball player to receive the honor.  This summer, Schmitz will conduct chemistry research at Columbia University in New York City while also playing on a summer baseball team that will include several members of the Division I Columbia baseball team. Schmitz plans to continue his education after graduating from Calvin. "I know I'm going to be in school somewhere after graduation, I just don't what for yet.  Medicine is my number one choice right now."

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