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Putnam County catcher Evan Kreiser takes the field during a game last week. Kreiser does a little bit of everything for the Panthers as he is a pitcher, catcher and cleanup hitter. NewsTribune file photo/Scott Anderson
GRANVILLE — One Putnam County baseball game might find senior Evan Kreiser on the mound pitching.
In the next — if he pitched in the last one or two games — he will be bundled up in catching gear as he’s behind home plate blocking other Panther pitcher’s fastballs and throwing out opponents attempting to steal a base.
However, it doesn’t matter what game is marked on the schedule, he will be making his presence felt at the cleanup spot in the lineup.
This might sound like the master-list of baseball multi-tasking nobody should be able to handle.
Kreiser will say it’s tough but he does it to help out his team and for the love of the game.
“It really takes a lot to focus on all those things,” Kreiser said. “You have to play really good defense and then come back and hit. Hitting is not an easy thing to do. One day you’ll have a bad day and then next day you’ll have a good day. It’s really on and off. I try to focus, use my fundamentals and put the ball in play.”
His focus is right where the Panthers (15-10-1) like it located.
Kreiser leads the area in RBI with 27, is eighth in doubles with seven — three behind the leader — and is one of 14 players tied with one triple for fourth place.
On the mound, he leads the area with a 0.62 ERA.
“He’s having an all-around great season. He’s one of our leading hitters,” Panther coach Joey Ohnesorge said. “He set some goals for what he wanted to do and he’s matched those goals offensively. On the mound, he’s been great. He’s considered our No. 3 or 4 pitcher, but he’s pitched some really good games. He stepped up early in the fall and indicated he wanted to pitch. We gave him a look in the fall and based on what he did in the fall, we knew he was going to fit in the rotation somewhere.”
The versatile player — who said he’s played at every position in the field — has played baseball since he was five-years old and was on his father’s tee-ball team.
Through his journey, he caught and pitched in little league, junior league, travel ball and the PC junior varsity team, but wasn’t able to do either once he made it to the varsity squad.
In PC’s trip to state last season when it finished second in Class 1A, Kreiser was in the outfield as one of the team’s 10 seniors, Christian Carboni, was behind the plate.
Kreiser was a full-time member of the varsity team his sophomore campaign, but only pitched and caught when the JV team needed him.
Once he got the opportunity to get back to where he wanted to be, Kreiser jumped on it as he forced himself to refine the tricks of the trades he hadn’t used much in the last few seasons.
“I just try to remember everything (former PC coach Dave) Garcia taught me,” Kreiser said. “He taught me a lot because he was a catcher. That’s where I learned all my stuff. He taught me how to block, how to throw and footwork. I’ve retained everything he taught me. Once he tells you, you pretty much stick to it. It’s hard to change.”
Fellow Panthers’ pitcher Harold Fay couldn’t be happier with the man behind the bag.
Not only does he know how to prevent passed balls, but if Fay is in a jam, Kreiser has the pitching experience to help guide him to the next out.
“He’s caught for me all four years basically. I think we mesh really well,” Fay said. “It’s tough to catch and pitch. Catching is definitely one of the toughest jobs to do besides pitching. He does both and that’s just a testament to how hard he works and how much time he puts into the game.”
In other words, a PC opponent isn’t facing one hurler when Fay, Dan Pavlovich or another PC pitcher is on the mound, they’re battling two.
“It makes it easier because I know what they think when they’re pitching,” Kreiser said. “I know what kind of pitches they want to throw, but sometimes you know you can’t throw them. We kind of help each other out. I go out there and talk to them. I tell them to calm down if they’re having a bad inning and help them out as much as I can.”
Brandon LaChance can be reached at 220-6995, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_LaChance.
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