Senior left-hander Robert Wendzicki pitched more innings last season than he had in the entirety of his career on the mound for the Eastern Michigan University baseball team.
In the 2011 season, he pitched 106.2 innings, which is fifth most in program history for a single season, and allowed 40 earned runs on 110 hits with a 3.38 ERA. He also led the team in strikeouts with 76.
In the three seasons he pitched before his senior season — excluding 2009 when he missed the whole season because of Tommy John Surgery — Wendzicki pitched 63.2 innings, tallying 38 strikeouts with a 4.17 ERA.
Wendzicki, who started playing baseball at the age of four, enjoys playing videogames and listening to hip-hop and country music in his spare time.
“I love sports and played just about every sport, but baseball just stuck with me,” Wendzicki said.
When deciding on where to attend college, the 6-foot-1 Ohio native decided to come to Ypsilanti to be an Eagle, but he almost ended up as a Cardinal.
“I almost committed to Ball State, but then I came on a visit here and stayed for the weekend,” he said. “I loved the campus; it wasn’t too big, and I loved the group of guys here.”
Team camaraderie is a must for any winning team and was one of the reasons behind the Eagles recent success.
“The group of guys, we all want the same thing, and we wouldn’t be where we are now if we all wanted different things,” Wendzicki said of his favorite thing about the team.
The Eagles lost 8-0 to eventual champions Kent State in the semifinal round in this year’s Mid-American Conference, but Wendzicki was named to the All-MAC tournament team for his impressive performance.
Wendzicki went 8.2 innings and only gave up two earned runs on nine hits with seven strikeouts in the 4-2 tournament-opener win against Northern Illinois.
In his second start of the tournament in just four days, he pitched another 6.2 innings until the bottom of the seventh inning saw him pulled after giving up three of the five runs scored in the inning in the loss to Kent State, ending the season.
Despite the disappointing end to the season, Wendzicki was the backbone of the Eagles pitching staff as he totaled 227 pitches in the 15.1 innings he pitched in the MAC tournament and threw for more than seven innings in eight of his last 10 starts.
“He’s pretty old so he has some knowledge,” fellow senior pitcher Aaron Chavez said.
Aside from surgery that cost him the 2009 season, Wendzicki has faced other health issues that have challenged his baseball career.
“I had two pretty bad illnesses that almost took baseball from me,” Wendzicki said.
Two years ago he got salmonella poisoning, was hospitalized for two-and-a-half months and couldn’t walk for three. In the 2011 season, he lost the vision in his right eye for a while, which no doubt was difficult for a guy who said his favorite thing about baseball is “being able to play and winning.”
Even with all the time away from the game he loves, he still found time to make friends with his teammates.
“He’s pretty girly,” Chavez said jokingly. “He likes candles and incense.”