Baseball is a game of numbers, and for Kalamazoo College's right handed pitcher Ryan Orr - so far the numbers have been kind. Five wins, zero losses, 42 innings pitched, 30 strikeouts, three complete games, two saves, a 1.71 ERA, an opposing hitters average of .200, and only four walks allowed sort of kind. It goes without saying these numbers have been a huge factor for a Hornet team that is currently 10-6 in league play, second in the MIAA, and on pace for the best finish in school history. Maybe the most impressive of all the numbers is 19 - Orr's age. Ryan is only a freshman. He's well aware of how impressive these numbers are and how dominant his performances have been, but he's also smart enough to realize he's barely made an indent on his young collegiate career.
That's a goal Orr shares with head coach Mike Ott. Ott and his connections with various summer leagues is one of the main reasons Orr decided to commit to Kalamazoo. Ott has helped Orr secure a spot in a the prestigious Northwoods league this summer in Wisconsin.
"Most freshmen are not ready for the big moment or role, but Ryan has been since the first day he stepped on campus," Ott said.
"A lot of the DI schools didn't look at me as much because I wanted to be an impact guy right away and I also wanted the opportunity to be a dual guy, which I am here, playing second base and pitching," Orr said. "That was another one of the main reasons I wanted to come here."
"I guess that's what the bus rides are for," Orr laughed. "You've got to try and get back the time you miss on the bus or on the weekends. You've got to do what you've got to do. Some nights you'll want to go to bed after a hard practice but you'll have to stay up until 2 a.m. doing homework. You just need to find a balance."
With baseball season not starting until March, Orr had six months off season to adjust to the college lifestyle. He credits this as one of the reasons he's been able to come out of the gates so smoothly.
Even though at times Orr makes it look easy when he's staring down batters from the mound, he said it's been a whole different ball game than what he was used to in the past.
Ryan said pitchers Aaron Schwark (sophomore) and Adam McDowell (senior) have been guys who've really helped ease his adjustment to college baseball. Whether they're giving him tips on how to sharpen his curveball or hold runners on, or just picking him up vocally after a tough day, he says their influence has been invaluable. Head coach Mike Ott also noted that Ryan has really grown on the mound while working with Hornet pitching coach Mike Spiegel.
Ryan's also had to adjust to being a rookie again. Even though he carries such an important role on the team, he can't escape that he's a freshman. This means he can't escape freshman duties such as carrying the catcher's gear, bat bags, and baseball buckets. Ryan takes it all in stride and knows it's tradition and part of the game.