Departing pitcher Skyler Baldwin, in the red shirt with his teammates, left for the Missionary Training Center in Salt Lake City June 19. HERALD PHOTO/Mark Madia
EVANSTON — The Evanston Outlaws have experienced a bit of a skid as of late. Production at the plate in their recent losses was about half the 10 hits managers believe will put Evanston in contention. Connection is being made, but even solidly-hit balls seem like they’re going right into the opponents’ gloves, according to coach Judd Kishpaugh. As previously reported, the team has been — and will now be even more — thin in its pitching rotation, with the loss of Skyler Baldwin.
The Outlaws’ last win saw Baldwin on the mound, as the Outlaws picked up a 5-0 win over the Riverton Raiders to open the Knight Invite last Friday, June 14. Baldwin pitched a complete seven-inning game, allowing only two hits and no earned runs, while striking out 10.
From there, Evanston faced some quality teams, but management believes the team dropped one or two games the team never should have lost. The Outlaws came up short in four consecutive contests, watching their 7-6 seasonal mark drop to 7-10, and until they can bring along a couple of current Outlaws, their pitching rotation is comprised of Kade Lym and Ian Fisher.
Kishpaugh had words to the effect: “We’ll do our best to get through June. It will be tough on us,” noting the hitting woes could, in part, correlate with the Outlaws not getting their 200 to 300 swings/cuts in, per practice.
Baldwin was scheduled to depart for the Missionary Training Center in Salt Lake City this past Wednesday morning, June 19, continuing on to the Tulsa, Okla., area on July 3 to serve his church mission.
With camps for high school sports a part of the equation, team members were few for Tuesday night’s practice. Prior to practice, those who were present gathered around Baldwin. The 2012 senior, who golfed for the Red Devils, is obviously held in high regard by his teammates in his sport of choice, baseball.
“Baseball is my love, my game,” Baldwin told the Herald. A self-described “Cubs fan, through and through,” big leaguers he’s admired include Derek Jeter, “even though he’s a Yankee,” and the Cubs’ own Alfonso Soriano, who the Outlaws hurler believes is better suited at second base than in the outfield.
Baldwin was ingrained in the Outlaws program. It seems to the coaching staff he was around much longer than the two years he actually played, but his impact on the team must have artificially increased his longevity in their minds.
“I decided to work, maybe not the best decision of my life, but I thought it was a good idea to make some money, and it was,” Baldwin detailed, “but I really regretted not playing.”
As a student of the game, aware of his natural aptitude on the diamond and how much he had progressed in two seasons, he can’t help but speculate what that extra season may have awarded him.
“Who knows?” Baldwin ponders. “Maybe instead of Utah State, obtaining a scholarship, something like that.”
Primarily used as a pitcher, Baldwin played shortstop and second base, as well as first base — “just because my arm was sore, but they wanted the bat,” meaning even playing him out of position, to have the advantage of having him at the plate.
“Third base and a little outfield, but I’m not much of an outfielder — [I’m] too slow for that,” Baldwin joked, his modesty in balance with his confidence. “My position of trade is pitcher.”
Memorable moments? A play Baldwin won’t soon forget?
“One of the craziest things that ever happened was when a ball booted off Baltazar’s foot, against Fremont,” Baldwin recollected. “It just happened to kick right toward me, and we were able to get the out with the runner on first.”
He grades his own pitching and seems pleased and proud, not just of his improvement, but because he helped his team excel. He hopes more kids take the chance to play to baseball, continuing on through American Legion, convinced there’s a great deal to gain through participating in his favorite sport, but so much more that is learned about life, about yourself, through baseball.
“And just being a part of the Outlaws’ atmosphere is great,” Baldwin reflected. “I wish everyone had a chance to experience the way it makes me feel, and I know my teammates feel it, too.”
No matter what, it doesn’t sound like Baldwin would trade his Outlaws experience for anything.
“It’s been great just to come down, play ball and be...be me,” he said.