Tyler Nemtuda did not get to pitch in a competitive baseball game for three years. He got the chance to get back in the game in 2023 and he made the most of it. A left-hander and 2020 graduate of Portage (Ind.) High School, Nemtuda lost his senior season with the Indians to the COVID-19 pandemic. While competing in a travel-ball PBR Future Games event at Grand Park in Westfield, Ind., Nemtuda attracted the attention of coaches at Florence-Darlington Technical College — a junior college in Florence, S.C. He went for a visit and decided to become a Flo-Dar Stinger. But a car accident about a year into school caused him to drop all his classes and miss out on the 2021 baseball season. Just before the 2022 slate, Nemtuda dislocated his left knee cap. He had surgery and missed that campaign as well. “I had a pretty rough two years,” says Nemtuda. He began running and throwing last July. With his knee on the mend, he got to play for the first time since his junior year at Portage. This spring, the southpaw played for head coach head coach Preston McDonald, pitching coach Jeremy McDonald (not relation to Preston) and assistant pitching coach Ryan Smith and made 18 mound appearances (16 in relief), going 3-1 with two saves, a 3.77 earned run average, 32 strikeouts and 15 walks in 28 2/3 innings. “They told us to work hard, never give up and do your best every time you go out there,” says Nemtuda of his Flo-Dar coaches. “We learned a lot, made a lot of friends and had a good time.” Throwing from an arm slot between three-quarter overhand and sidearm, the lefty uses a two-seam fastball, slider and change-up. The two-seamer can move into or away a hitter on either side of the plate and sits at 87 to 89 mph and has topped out at 90. “That’s like my best pitch right now,” says Nemtuda. “I have a lot of arm-side run and then it will sometimes cut into righties, too. I get a lot of ground balls. He also gets plenty of swings and misses with the fastball when he puts it inside or up in the strike zone. The slider moves to left to right, landing on the back foot of a right-handed hitter. His change-up is a three-finger splitter with the ring and pointer fingers placed outside of his two-seam grip. Nemtuda earned an associate degree in Arts at Florence-Darlington and is committed to join the Bearcats of NCAA Division II Lander University in Greenwood, S.C., in the fall while studying Business Administration. Jason Burke is Lander’s head coach. Alex Moore is pitching coach. The Bearcats are Peach Belt Conference members. Baseball and school keep him busy, but when he has time Nemtuda enjoys fishing. He tends to go for brown trout, steelhead and bass at home and bass in South Carolina. Tyler was born in Chesterton, Ind., and and attended school there until moving to nearby Portage after his freshman year as his father went there for a basketball coaching job. Father Bob Nemtuda is now a Physical Education teacher at Liberty Elementary School in Chesterton. Mother Tracy Nemtuda is nurse for Ambiomed. Older sister Taylor Nemtuda was involved in cross country, tennis and some basketball at Chesterton. Tyler played baseball at what is now Liberty Rec Babe Ruth and State Park Little League — both in Chesterton — and then went into travel ball with the Chesterton-based Duneland Flyers, Illinois-based Elite Baseball and the Indiana Bulls. He was on the Chesterton High School junior varsity as a freshman and the Portage varsity as a sophomore and junior. He played first base and right field when not pitching. His coaches were Bob Dixon and John Selman. “They were just great coaches that would help you with anything,” says Nemtuda. “I lift a lot. They’d always open the gym and weight room for me, which was awesome. “I still talk to them to this day.” Former Portage head coach Doug Nelson has also given facilities access to Nemtuda. This summer, Nemtuda is with the Northern League’s Northwest Indiana Oilmen. The Adam Enright-managed team is to open its season today (May 25) at Lake County (Crown Point, Ind.) with the home opener at Oil City Stadium in Whiting, Ind., June 7.
Plymouth (Ind.) American Legion Post 27 baseball is back. After a six-season hiatus, the Diamond Spyders are getting ready for the 2023 summer season. Post 27 last fielded a senior (19U) team in 2016. Plymouth comes back this year its first junior (17U) team with the goal of having a senior squad in 2024. Ryan Jessen is the Diamond Spyders general manager. Jessen says the season is 2023 important for re-establishing Post 27 in the Legion baseball community. There’s a few other reasons. “It provides a cost-efficient, family-friendly option to play baseball locally,” says Jessen. “Lastly, it gives our players an opportunity to develop their skills in a ‘practice-first’ model, encouraging daily skill-building over participating in weekend tournaments.” Why did Jessen decide to revive Post 27? “My son had a great summer last year playing on a 15U team in Indianapolis,” says Jessen. “He had a good coaching staff who played him at multiple positions. He met a lot of really nice people. “Our only issue was logistically speaking, we were spending more time on the road than we were at the field.” A tournament schedule at Grand Park in Westfield, Ind.. typically starts with one game on Thursday and Friday morning, then finished over the weekend. “We had four hours of drive time, four days a week,” says Jessen. “In this time, my son got roughly 10 at-bats and maybe 40 bullpen reps. That’s just not enough. I reached out to the Legion because I want to offer a local program focused on daily skill-building. “My hope is each kid can get 100-plus reps a day. Our season will not be determined by a win-and-loss record. We want each kid to focus on nutrition, strength-building and skill development. If we do that, then our goal of a cost-efficient, family-friendly, skill-based program will be more than successful.” A roster currently of 16 consisting of players who attend three high schools — Plymouth, Culver Community and Culver Military — is slated to open the season June 6. Home games will be played at Bill Nixon Field in Plymouth’s Centennial Park. The state tournament is in late July. Two high school varsity head coaches — Ryan Wolfe (Plymouth) and Kurt Christiansen (Culver Military) — are on the coaching staff along with Clayton Adamson and Michael Delp. Blake Mackey serves as marketing intern/communications analyst.
Michael Dillon thrives on the big moment. He is the one that wants the baseball in his hand while standing in the middle of the diamond with the game on the line. A right-handed pitcher, Dillon has fed his fire the past two springs as the closer at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. “They put me in that role mainly because I like to compete,” says Dillon. “I can’t slip up and I have to be in-control. “They saw that in me when I stepped on-campus.” A 2019 graduate of Hamilton Southeastern High School in Fishers, Ind., Dillon hurled the first four innings of the championship game as the Royals won the Indiana High School Athletic Association Class 4A state title his senior season. The Hamilton County Player of the Year and first-team all-Hoosier Crossroads Conference performer went 9-1 with 79 strikeouts in 63 1/3 innings and was chosen for the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association North/South All-Star Series in Madison. A varsity player from sophomore year on, Dillon was on team’s led by Scott Henson and Jeremy Sassanella (as a senior). Dillon got to compete with and against older HSE Henson-coached talent, including Class of 2018’s Sam Bachman (now in the Los Angeles Angels system) and Carter Lohman (who pitched at the University of Louisville) and 2016’s Matt Gorski (now in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization) and Andrew Bohm (who pitched at Purdue University). “Coach Sassanella had a style of coaching where we knew he loved us and he was going to battle for us,” says Dillon. “He was able to push us but also let us (as seniors) take the ship as far as we wanted to go.” Among Dillon’s classmates was Tyler Schweitzer (now in the minors with the Chicago White Sox) and Jack Dewolf. “We just loved to compete,” says Dillon. “We had that teammate-brotherhood rivalry.” Dillon began his college career at Xavier University in Cincinnati, playing for Musketeers head coach Billy O’Conner. “I really enjoyed it there,” says Dillon. “Xavier plays one of the toughest schedules in the country. I wanted to compete against the best.” The pitcher did not get into action in 2020 — a season cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic. He was going to play in the College Summer League at Grand Park in Westfield, Ind., but got COVID and never got back into it. He has trained at PRP Baseball in Noblesville, Ind., every winter in high school and some beyond. In 2021, he made 14 mound appearances (all in relief) and was 0-0 with one save, a 3.10 earned run average, 21 strikeouts and 18 walks in 20 1/3 innings. After the season, Dillon began exploring other opportunities and went into the Transfer Portal. That summer he was going to play in the CSL, but decided to focus on his next stop while working at Pro-X Athlete Development in Westfield with Jay Lehr. Lehr played baseball and football at Carmel (Ind.) High School with John Dillon — Michael’s father — and is a close family friend. “He helped me a ton with mechanics and just getting my arm back on-time,” says Michael Dillon of Lehr. After viewing Dillon’s video on Twitter, the Nova Southeastern coaching staff — led by Laz Gutierrez — reached out and he wound up with the NCAA Division II Sharks. “The Sunshine State Conference is no joke,” says Dillon, who turned 22 in February. “There’s a ton of stars in this league to play with and against and the location is hard to beat. “I’ve really enjoyed my time here and that’s why I’m coming back for that fifth year.” In his first campaign at NSU (2022), Dillon made 21 trips to the bump (all in relief) and was 1-1 with 14 saves, a 1.73 ERA, 22 strikeouts and six walks in 26 innings for a team that went 36-17 overall, 17-13 in the SSC and competed in the NCAA D-II South Regional. In the summer of 2022, Dillon joined the California Collegiate League’s Orange County Riptide (Irvine, Calif.). This spring, Dillon — fighting through elbow fatigue — made 15 appearances (14 in relief with one mid-week start) and was 2-2 with five saves, 4.95 ERA, 18 strikeouts and 12 walks and 20 innings. The Sharks went 26-23 overall and 15-15 in the conference. “Last year started out hot,” says Dillon of a squad that began 17-0 and ranked No. 1 in the country. “This year we were hit by injuries and other things. “Every returning guy is hungrier now.” His summer of 2023 plans as of now do not call for playing in games. “This summer I’ll be lifting and getting my body right,” says Dillon. “I’m going to perfect my change-up.” He plans to stay in Fort Lauderdale and is taking summer classes to complete his Entrepreneurship degree. “I’d like to be my own boss someday,” says Dillon. In the fall, he begins work on a graduate certificate program while getting ready for the 2024 season. Will he close or start? “It depends on what our team needs,” says Dillon. “I’m into filling any role.” Dillon, who is 6-foot and 180 pounds, keeps hitters off-balance with his breaking ball command. He employs a four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball, slider, curveball and change-up. The former middle infielder delivers from a high three-quarter arm slot. His four-seamer has been clocked at Nova Southeastern at 88 to 91 mph. He “grew to love” his two-seamer this spring — a pitch that usually travels 87 to 89 mph. Since about third grade, Dillon’s put-away pitch has been his slider. “I can throw it in any count,” says Dillon. “It’s more of slurve. When mine’s on it has really late, sharp break (at 79 to 82 mph). I like to land it and throw a sharper one later in the count. I usually get my swing-and-misses on those. “I use the curve to change the eyes of the hitters.” Born in Carmel, Dillon spent his younger years between Carmel, Fishers and Louisville before landing back in Fishers. He was in rec ball with the Fisher HSE Cats and was coached by his father from third grade until high school. He then played for the Indiana Prospects and the last two summers of travel ball for the Midwest Astros. John and Kelly Dillon have three children — Michael, Hannah and Brooke. John Dillon is in medical sale. Kelly Dillon is a project manager. Hannah Dillon is in medical school at Indiana University. Brooke Dillon (Hamilton Southeastern Class of 2023) is headed to Florida Atlantic University in the fall. Both girls played volleyball at HSE.
Moneyball — the film based on the non-fiction book “Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game” by Michael Lewis — came out in 2011. Brodey Heaton was 9 or 10 and living in Newburgh, Ind., when he first saw it. “I liked the storyline and as I grew up and started getting more into math and statistics it just started becoming my favorite movie,” says Heaton, who is a first baseman — the same position played by Scott Hatteberg of the Oakland Athletics in real life and the film. Now 22 and a 6-foot-5, 235-pounder at NCAA Division I Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., Heaton has already earned an undergraduate degree in Applied Mathematics. With an extra year of eligibility because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Heaton plans to play for the Bruins again in 2024 while pursuing a Master of Sport Administration. Batting primarily in the 3-hole, Heaton has played in 52 games (50 starts) in 2023 and is hitting .241 (46-of-191) with six home runs, 10 doubles, 33 runs batted in, 28 runs scored and .724 OPS (.326 on-base percentage plus .398 slugging average). “I try to drive in runs or be productive for the team — try to have a tough at-bat and set up the rest of the lineup the best I can,” says Heaton, who went 2-of-3 and scored a run Tuesday, May 16 at Tennessee. For his college career, the righty swinger/thrower has played in 174 games (172 starts) and is hitting .286 (191-of-669) with 23 homers, 39 doubles, 149 RBIs, 97 runs and .825 OPS (.360/.465). Heaton was an all-Ohio Valley Conference tournament team in 2022. If Belmont (23-30, 8-16) qualifies for the 2023 Missouri Valley Conference tourney, that event is May 23-27 at Indiana State. Teammates voted Heaton and left-handed pitcher Andy Bean as co-captains for 2023. “Part of my job is the communicate between the coaches and the rest of the team,” says Heaton. “And to be an extra coach out there. Since I’ve probably been here the longest I help the new guys out and give them little pointers when they need it. “It’s also being a relaxing presence for people and showing them the way we do things at Belmont.” In that way, Heaton is a reflection of his veteran head coach. Dave Jarvis is in his 26th season as Belmont head coach and 41st year of coaching overall. “He’s a calm presence in the dugout,” says Heaton of Jarvis. “He’s always positive. He’s always telling us to be calm and ready for the moment.” Heaton benefits from physical strength and mental acuity, honed by playing football (tight end), basketball (power forward) and baseball (first base) at Castle High School, where he graduated in 2019. “Strength is a big part of my game now,” says Heaton. “I’ve always been naturally strong but in my years at Belmont I’ve put in a lot more work in the weight room. I’ve gotten a lot more strength, especially in my lower body. I’ve worked with our strength coach (assistant sports performance coach Jarett Thompson) just to stay healthy and strong. “It’s paid dividends for me. “I’m not the quickest. Playing three sports in high school has made me more athletic. My Baseball I.Q. helps me know what’s going on and get to balls or take extra bases.” Curt Welch was Heaton’s head baseball coach in high school, instilling drive and providing life lessons. “He is super competitive,” says Heaton of Welch. “He wants it a lot out there and he takes that into his teams. “He has that attention to detail. You can just tell that he wants to make us competitive. I really appreciated playing for him.” As a senior, Heaton hit .392 and was named to the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association North/South All-Star Series in Madison and was all-state honorable mention, first-team all-Southern Indiana Athletic Conference and the All-Metro Player of the Year. He helped the Knights win two sectionals and two regionals. Growing up in Newburgh, Heaton started out with local teams, played Newburgh Junior Baseball in middle school and was with the Indiana Bulls travel organization from 11U to 17U. Sean Laird was the head coach in his 17U summer. He then went with the Jeremy Johnson-coached Evansville Razorbacks before heading to Belmont. After his freshman season with the Bruins, Heaton went to College Summer League at Grand Park in Westfield, Ind. Early in the 2021 spring season, he suffered a torn labrum in his left hip and partially-torn quadriceps and played through it. Surgery kept him off the field that summer. Heaton played for the New England Collegiate Baseball League’s Ocean State Waves in 2022 and expects to go back to South Kingstown, R.I., this summer. Bryan and Crystal Heaton have two children — Brodey and Katelyn (19). Bryan Heaton is a project manager for Toyota. Crystal Heaton is in the finance department of Deaconess Health System. Katelyn Heaton is studying speech therapy at Murray (Ky.) State University.
Aaron Ernst is experiencing professional baseball for the first time. The 24-year-old right-handed pitcher from Carmel, Ind., reported two weeks ago to the Tri-City ValleyCats — a Frontier League team in Troy, N.Y. The MLB partner league club is to begin the 2023 regular season Friday, May 12 at home against Trois-Rivieres. Ernst also received an invitation from the Evansville (Ind.) Otters in the same league, but decided to go to New York on the recommendation of friends who had played in Tri-City for manager Pete Incaviglia. “Pete’s a good guy,” says Ernst of the former big league slugger. “He’s a players’ coach.” Ernst, who is classified as Rookie-1 by Frontier League eligibility rules, also works with ValleyCats pitching coach Brooks Carey, a former pro pitcher with plenty of managing and coaching on his resume.’ He was pitching coach at Evansville in 2012. “He’s a great guy, too,” sats Ernst. “I enjoy the coaches, the team and everything about it.” So how did Ernst get to this point? After two seasons of not playing while recuperating from Tommy John surgery (Ulnar Lateral Ligament reconstruction), Ernst pitched in 2022 at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. “I started off the year well and got banged up a little bit,” says Ernst. The righty was the Opening Day starter for the Alex Sogard-coached Raiders and made 10 mound appearances (five starts) and went 1-1 with an 8.41 earned run average, 30 strikeouts and 19 walks in 20 1/3 innings while also making the Horizon League Academic Honor Roll. Ernst graduated with a Business degree concentrating on Marketing and is well on his way toward getting a Masters of Business Administration. His first two college seasons (2018 and 2019) were spent at the University of Dayton, where he made 23 appearances (15 starts) and was 4-11 with a 5.48 ERA, 70 strikeouts and 41 walks in 88 2/3 innings. He was named to the Atlantic 10 Conference All-Freshman Team in 2018. In the summers after those two seasons at Dayton, Ernst went with the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League’s Richmond (Ind.) Jazz in 2018 and New England Collegiate League’s Upper Valley (Vt.) Nighthawks in 2019. He did not play in the summer of 2022. Ernst transferred to Wright State in 2020 and was required to sit out what turned out to be a season shortened by the COVID-19 pandemic. While working out at home during quarantine, he tore his UCL and was soon on the operating table and unable to pitch in 2021. His pro career looks to begin with Ernst as a bullpen arm. “I’m definitely a reliever right now,” says Ernst. “But I’m open to whatever I’m asked to do.” Throwing from an over-the-top arm slot, the 6-foot-3, 205-pound Ernst employs a four-seam fastball, change-up, slider and curveball. In recent weeks, his four-seamer has been regular-clocked between 92 to 95 mph and sometimes touching 96. Not quite a “circle” change, that pitch drops. When it’s right the slider is in the low to mid-80s and has late and sharp break. The curve is at 80 mph or below with late 12-to-6 movement. When Ernst is Indiana during the off-season, he works out at Pro-X Athlete Development in Westfield and gets pointers from Jay Lehr. When in Dayton, Ernst gives lessons and trains at Pauer Sports Performance. Growing up in Carmel, Ernst was with the Carmel Dads Club, Carmel Pups and Indiana Bulls in his early years. He then went with the Indiana Aces (Lehr’s organization) and played on a team coached by Brad Pearson. Ernst went back to the Indiana Bulls for his 17U summer and played for Sean Laird. He was with the Jay Hundley-coached 18U Indiana Blue Jays before heading to the Jayson King-coached Dayton Flyers. A 2017 graduate of Carmel High School, Ernst’s head coach as a senior was Matt Buczkowski. Before that is was Dan Roman. Aaron is the second of two boys born to Allen and Carmen Ernst. Allen is a salesman. Carmen is in health care. Older brother Addison Ernst is a Purdue University graduate and an engineer in the Grand Rapids, Mich., area.
When Kyler McIntosh followed his brother’s foot steps and went from Columbus, Ind., to Alabama State University baseball it was with the idea he would be a pitcher-only. Hunter McIntosh, who had been a four-time all-area selection, three-time team captain and two-time team MVP at Columbus North High School (Class of 2012), pitched three seasons for the Hornets (2014-16) and went 14-6 with two saves, a 3.93 earned run average and 152 strikeouts and 69 walks in 151 innings. Like his brother, Kyler McIntosh was honored as the Baseball Player of the Year for The Republic, the Columbus newspaper. Righty thrower/swinger Kyler went 8-1 with 1.68 ERA, 60 strikeouts and eight walks in 62 2/3 innings while also hitting .394 with four home runs, five triples, 39 runs batted in and 29 runs scored in his senior season at Columbus North (2021), made the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association North/South All-Star Series as a pitcher and headed for a mound in Montgomery, Ala. Then McIntosh had a conversation with Alabama State head coach Jose’ Vazquez and his staff. “I had them watch me swing a little bit and take some ground balls,” says McIntosh. “I was really mainly a pitcher — definitely freshman year — but I had the chance to earn my spot in the lineup.” In 2022, McIntosh pitched in 17 games (nine starts) and played in 41. He went 4-4 with one save, a 5.78 ERA, 64 strikeouts and 17 walks in 67 innings while also hitting .384 (38-of-99) with three homers, two triples, nine doubles, 22 RBIs and 20 runs. The Hornets went 34-25 overall and 21-8 in the Southwestern Athletic Conference and ended the season in the NCAA D-I Knoxville Regional. This spring, McIntosh has been Alabama State’s starting shortstop when he’s not pitching. He’s been in 42 games for the Hornets (30-15, 18-3). He is hitting .301 (46-of-153) with four homers, two triples, 10 doubles, 28 RBIs, 38 runs and an .840 OPS (.369 on-base percentage plus .471 slugging average). On the mound, McIntosh has 11 appearances (eight starts) and is 3-3 with a 5.16 ERA, 35 strikeouts and six walks in 45 1/3 innings. With all the throwing his does from the bump and in the infield, arm care of McIntosh includes plenty of weighted ball work. “I get treatment all the time,” says McIntosh. “A couple of days after I pitch I get it scraped out and rubbed out and everything. I just do a lot of recovery. I drink a lot of water.” McIntosh does not throw bullpens between starts — like many pitchers do. When it looks like he might be used in relief, he throws flat ground pitches to a teammate instead of taking ground balls between innings. “I don’t throw off a mound in the bullpen, I just get eight (warm-up) pitches,” says McIntosh. “I have two totally different mindsets when I pitch or play short. “When I play short, it’s about having fun and keeping my team engaged and locked-in. I’m kind of psycho when I pitch. He flip a switch pretty quickly and focus on keeping me locked-in.” Not a high-octane hurler (his top velocity is 87 to 89 mph), McIntosh employs a wide variety of pitches — sinker, slider, curveball, change-up and cutter — mostly from a three-quarter arm slot. “I’ve learned to command them so I don’t get beat up too bad on the mound,” says McIntosh, who works this season with first-year pitching coach Branch Kloess. Of late, McIntosh has been in the No. 2 hole in the Alabama State batting order. He explains his offensive approach. “As a freshman, I knew (pitchers) were going to attack me,” says McIntosh. “I went up there and hunted the fastball. The first fastball I got I tried to smash it. This year is kind of the same, but they have a scouting report on me. I get pitched a lot differently then I did last year. If I do get a fastball I try to jump on it. This year it’s thinking fastball and adjusting to off-speed. “If I see a hanging breaking ball I know I have to go after it.” McIntosh cherishes his time with Puerto Rico native Vazquez. “I’ve learned so much Spanish,” says McIntosh. “Playing for him is so enjoyable. I enjoy the coaching staff. It’s definitely fun when we’re winning and we’re doing a good job of that right now.” Currently on a three-game win streak, Alabama State has three more conference series and two mid-week games prior to the SWAC Championship May 24-28 in Atlanta. Kyler has a number of mentors. Besides his father, there’s father Dennis, Will Nelson (Hunter’s best friend and the owner of Tipton Lakes Athletic Club in Columbus) and Devin Mann (a Columbus North teammate of Hunter McIntosh who is now at Triple-A with the Los Angeles Dodgers organization). “My dad is consistently on my butt to keep working hard,” says McIntosh. “My mother (Lani) definitely keeps me in-line. When I need something I go to her and she helps me out.” McIntosh works out and takes lessons from Mann in the off-season. Born in Seymour, Ind., McIntosh grew up in Columbus. He played rec ball in town and a CERA Sports Park & Campground — aka CERALand — then travel ball with the Indiana Bulls, Indiana Outlaws (which became the Canes Midwest). Kyler played at Columbus North for head coach Ben McDaniel and assistants Mike Bodart (who is now Bull Dogs head coach), Daniel Ayers (who was selected in the 2013 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft and pitched in the Baltimore Orioles system) and Hunter McIntosh. McIntosh was with the Canes in the summer of 2020 and in the College Summer League at Grand Park in Westfield, Ind., in 2021. Following his freshman year at Alabama State, McIntosh played in seven summer games for the Appalachian League’s Johnson City (Tenn.) Doughboys. “I was super-tired,” says McIntosh. “My first college season really kicked me in the butt when I didn’t think it would. “I went home early and tried to rest my body and gain weight. Gaining weight has always been my problem. I’ve always gone out there and grinded games out. “I’ve always been kind of a scrawny kid.” At 6-foot-1, 172 pounds, McIntosh anticipates staying in Columbus and working out while trying to pounds to come back to the Hornets a little stronger and healthier. McIntosh is a Business Management major with a minor in Finance. His father owns a mowing business and is a distributor for Pepperidge Farms and George J. Howe Company and Kyler can see himself getting involved with one of those after graduation.
It wasn’t a direct route. But Connor Christman’s path has led him to coaching. Christman, who is in the second year as a graduate assistant coach at North Central College in Naperville, Ill., grew up with a father as a baseball scout/agent and a skilled older brother. The youngest son of Kevin and Linda Christman developed into a good player at Noblesville (Ind.) High School and followed Garrett Christman to Butler University in Indianapolis. Connor earned four varsity letters at Noblesville (2013-16) and was a .319 career hitter under coach Justin Keever. He was a sophomore starting third baseman on the Millers’ 2014 IHSAA Class 4A state champions. “Coach Keever taught us like a summer coach would which is great,” says Christman, 25. “When I look back on our state run, we definitely put the work in. A lot of our practices at Noblesville were structured and ran similar to college practices. “I’m making practice plans now and it’s pretty similar.” Christman was recruited by Steve Farley but played at Butler for Dave Schrage. “He was a really good coach and a really nice guy,” says Christman. “It was fun. Everyone came in open-minded and it was competitive off the bat.” An injury suffered his junior year at Butler led to surgery and Christman redshirted in 2020 while earning a Marketing degree. He had more eligibility remaining with his injury plus the COVID-19 pandemic. “It was kind of a big mess so I decided to get into the real world and get a job,” says Christman. “I did sales for a little less than a year (in Louisville and Philadelphia). “I enjoyed sales, but I was away from everybody and everything I knew. With everything closed down, I decided I didn’t want to do that anymore and moved home. I wanted to get back into baseball.” In March 2021, Christman began giving lessons at Roundtripper Sports Academy in Westfield and coached a 16U Indiana Mustangs team that summer. He also assisted his father with a team in the College Summer League at Grand Park in Westfield. “I learned everything about the game from my dad,” says Connor. “I know it might sound cheesy. “Being around him definitely helped with the (Baseball) I.Q. and all that.” Kevin Christman was a professional player and scouted in the Milwaukee Brewers and San Francisco Giants systems and has served as a player agent. He is a senior advisor to the Indiana Mustangs and Roundtripper. Garrett Christman graduated from Noblesville in 2014, played four seasons at Butler (2015-18) as a shortstop/pitcher and pitched briefly in the Giants organization before going into independent pro ball. He was the with the Frontier League’s Windy City ThunderBolts in 2022 and is on the current roster. “My brother always put his nose down and got to work,” says Connor. “He’d always go above and beyond with his craft and his training. “That’s probably why he’s still playing.” Connor was college teammates not only with Garrett but former travel ball mate Ryan Pepiot (who is now with the Los Angeles Dodgers) and Harrison Freed (who was in the Giants system). Connor says Garrett tends to be more serious with baseball while he is more on the laid-back side. “We both put the work in but there’s two different ways to do it,” says Connor. Right before the summer of 2021 Connor learned about the position at North Central, where he could coach and pursue a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree. He is on schedule to complete it this spring. “It’s too early to say where I will be because you never know,” says Christman of his immediate future. “I know I’m going to stay in the game of baseball. “I can see myself staying in college baseball coaching.” American Baseball Coaches Association member Christman is part of a North Central staff led by Ed Mathey that also features former big league pitcher and East Chicago Washington High School graduate Tim Stoddard plus Joe Heller, Todd Trunk, Tim Peraino, Alex Khoury, Joe Keenan, Tom Errico, Brian White and Mike Duckhorn as assistants and Tim Davoren as a student assistant. Gameday sees Christman coaching first base. He helps at practice with hitters, catchers and corner infielders while hitting balls to outfielders. He also develops scouting reports, coordinates on-campus events and goes out to look at potential North Central recruits. The majority of the roster comes from the Chicagoland area. “Recruiting never stops,” says Christman. “Even during the season.” During Mathey’s two stints, North Central has gone to the NCAA D-III World Series (2017) and won numerous conference and regional titles while developing eight College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin Players of the Year. “On the baseball field he definitely lets the players play,” says Christman of Mathey. “He gives guys opportunities. “We have fun here, too. It’s not just baseball 24/7. We have a good time and do very well on the field as well.” The 2023 Cardinals went into play April 4 at 11-7 overall and 0-3 in the CCIW. Christman appreciates the amount of baseball that Stoddard knows from his years in the game. “He comes with a lot of knowledge besides pitching,” says Christman. “It’s fun to be with him on the golf course.” As a D-I athlete, Christman played and practiced in an atmosphere where it seemed like coaches and players were constantly in-contact from the fall to the spring. “Here we’re allowed four days for four weeks or 16 days in the fall,” says Christman. “That’s pretty much just the month of September. “After that there’s no hands-on coaching. The coach can’t be there. Captains ran some stuff. “It’s definitely different. After the first month there’s no baseball until the end of January.” In the off-season, there were things to plan like the golf outing and lead-off banquet as well as prepping for February through May. North Central has enjoyed success in many sports. The Cardinals went 15-0 and won the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl and D-III national championship in football in 2022.
Players from inner-city Indianapolis took part in a National Scouting Report Metrics Combine Series event Saturday, March 18 at Roundtripper Sports Academy in Westfield, Ind. Led by NSR Area Director Mark Galyean, the combine gave participating high schoolers the opportunity to have their performance numbers like throwing and exit velocity recorded and skills captured by camera. The measurements tell how hard a player can hit and throw and how fast they can run — all things college coaches want to know when recruiting players. As an NSR-produced video shown to close to 60 players in attendance expressed it: “It’s about being seen.” Galyean asked the players if they wanted to play college baseball. Many hands shot up. He also dispelled what he considers a myth. “They say if you’re good enough they’re going to find you,” said Galyean. “There are almost 500,000 high school baseball players every single year. Approximately 35,000 go on to play in college. That’s less than 7 percent. That’s not very many. “You need to work hard. Coaches need to know who you are. They need to know what you can do. They need to evaluate.” Roundtripper founder and University High School (Carmel) head coach Chris Estep and former big league pitcher Cory Wade also spoke to the players. Arsenal Tech, Crispus Attucks, Indianapolis Metropolitan, Irvington Prep and Purdue Polytechnic (Englewood and North) were among schools represented by players who pre-registered. Estep emphasized the importance of getting good grades so athletes can be eligible to play at the college level and enhance their education. Wade, whose only college offer coming out of Broad Ripple High School in Indianapolis came from NCAA Division II Kentucky Wesleyan College, says the level is not important. “You want to go somewhere where you’re going to get to play,” said Wade, who is also part of a group that has developed the ScoutUsPro app to help players share their data. “The way things are on the recruiting landscape right now with the Transfer Portal, it’s fully effected high school recruiting. The junior college route has become very popular as a springboard to get into a four-year school.” After listening to a few speakers, players were put through a dynamic warm-up by Roundtripper Sports Performance Director Vernon Smith then went about throwing, swinging and running. While that was happening, coaches attended a seminar. Estep talked to them about the value of playing Wiffle®Ball to learn baseball situations on the fly. Gathering and watching an MLB game is another way to build Baseball I.Q. “Here’s what’s going to happen in the first three inning and this is what’s going to happen in the last three,” said Estep. “It’s amazing. In my career I was a much better in the seventh, eighth or ninth than I was in the first, second or third. “You need to talk to your kids about who they’re going to defend a hit-and-run and who’s going to cover, how the shortstop and second baseman are going to interact and once you have those things to start to win ball games. “This type of I.D. camp is exactly what they need to help push those kids to the next level.” A coach’s packet with important dates, preseason, in-season and postseason practice philosophies, important pitching routines (which were detailed by current pro Garrett Christman), a sample practice plan, college recruiting resources and an Indiana collegiate coaching directory were distributed. “I’m really interested and invested in these types of program working for Marion County and Indianapolis kids who don’t have these opportunities to train that other kids have,” said IHSAA Assistant Commissioner Robert Faulkens, who has been conducting similar programs with Estep for a few years. “(Director of Athletics for Roundtripper and University High assistant coach) Reid (Andrews) and Chris (Estep) have really put some work into this and they’ve thought about how to help you coach your kids during the course of the year. “We will be always available to you.” Faulkens asked coaches to take advantage of the resources and encouraged feedback. “We want to get kids ready for the next level,” said Faulkens. “When the opportunity presents itself they’ll be ready.” Faulkens said the plan is to continue have more events like the NSR Metrics Combine Series in central Indiana and — if possible — around Indiana and to get more individuals and groups involved.
Through March 19 NCAA D-I Tuesday, March 14 Kentucky 12, Indiana 2 (7 inn.) Notre Dame 6, Saint Joseph’s 3 Southern Indiana 10, Saint Louis 2
Wednesday, March 15 Evansville 14, Bellarmine 2 Indiana 6, Morehead State 5 (10 inn.) Indiana State 7, Illinois 3 Notre Dame 10, Saint Joseph’s 9 Purdue 14, Northern Illinois 5 Southern Illinois 16, Southern Indiana 9
Thursday, March 16 Indiana 23, Morehead State 5
Friday, March 17 Ball State 14, Toledo 2 Evansville 5, Purdue 2 Indiana 5, Morehead State 4 Purdue Fort Wayne 12, Wright State 10 Wright State 6, Purdue Fort Wayne 2 Murray State 15, Southern Indiana 1
Saturday, March 18 Wake Forest 4, Notre Dame 1 Wake Forest 12, Notre Dame 3 Murray State 11, Southern Indiana 4
Sunday, March 19 Ball State 19, Toledo 16 (13 inn.) Ball State 7, Toledo 4 Northwestern 5, Butler 1 Evansville 6, Purdue 4 Michigan State 8, Indiana State 2 Michigan State 10, Indiana State 7 Notre Dame 3, Wake Forest 1 Wright State 13, Purdue Fort Wayne 4 Murray State 13, Southern 3
NCAA D-II Tuesday, March 14 Saint Leo 8, Purdue Northwest 3 Eckerd 4, Purdue Northwest 3
NAIA Monday, March 13 Oakland City 14, Baptist Bible 13
Tuesday, March 14 Thomas More 14, IUPU-Columbus 3 Indiana Tech 7, Mid-America Christian 5
Wednesday, March 15 Calumet of St. Joseph 1, Trinity Christian 0 Trinity Christian 5, Calumet of St. Joseph 4 Grace 4, Taylor 1 Taylor 6, Grace 0 Mount Vernon Nazarene 7, Huntington 6 Huntington 9, Mount Vernon Nazarene 2 Indiana Wesleyan 16, IUPU-Columbus 5 IU-South Bend 9, Judson 5 (7 inn.) Judson 10, IU-South Bend 5 Baptist Bible 13, Oakland City 11
Thursday, March 16 Saint Francis 5, Bethel 4 Saint Francis 10, Bethel 3 (7 inn.) Indiana Wesleyan 14, Goshen 4 (8 inn.) Taylor 27, Grace 5 Taylor 13, Grace 0 Huntington 14, Mount Vernon Nazarene 13 Huntington 11, Mount Vernon Nazarene 0 IU-Kokomo 17, Alice Lloyd 5 IU-Kokomo 11, Alice Lloyd 0 Ohio Christian 7, IU Southeast 6 IU Southeast 4, Ohio Christian 2 Marian 8, Spring Arbor 7 Spring Arbor 11, Marian 8
Friday, March 17 IU Southeast 25, Ohio Christian 1
Sunday, March 19 Olivet Nazarene 16, Calumet of St. Joseph 6 Olivet Nazarene 9, Calumet of St. Joseph 5 Miami-Hamilton 5, IUPU-Columbus 4 Miami-Hamilton 19, IUPU-Columbus 4 IU-South Bend 5, Saint Xavier 1 Oakland City 9, Rio Grande 5 Oakland City 7, Rio Grando 1
Junior College Wednesday, March 15 Ivy Tech Northeast 15, Glen Oaks 9
Thursday, March 16 Kellogg 8, Ivy Tech Northeast 7
A partnership between several groups will bring collegiate exposure and learning opportunities to players, coaches and parents tied to Indianapolis Public Schools and inner-city charter institutions. Representatives from National Scouting Report Midwest (Mark Galyean and Jamie Owens), Indy RBI (Mike Lennox and Bob Haney), ScoutUs Pro (Cory Wade), Roundtripper Sports Academy (Chris Estep and Reid Andrews), Indiana High School Athletic Association (Robert Faulkens) and Baseball Across Indiana (Dan Hill and Steve Krah) met recently to plan. Saturday, March 18 was set for a video and metrics combine, position/skill development camp and coaches clinic (during the combine and conducted by Roundtripper staff) at Roundtripper in Westfield. Registration is at 11 a.m. The event runs from noon to 4 p.m. Welcome/introduction and recruiting seminar is slated for 12-12:30 with dynamic warm-up at 12:30, 60-yard dash/pro shuffle at 12:45, warm up arms at 1:15 and overhand velocity/exit velocity followed by pitchers and catcher at 1:30. NSR will videotape key events and make them available to all that attend (including coaches). As of March 6, schools who had indicated they will attend included Arsenal Tech (where Haney is head coach), Crispus Attucks, Indianapolis Metropolitan, Irvington Prep, Purdue Polytechnic, Riverside and Tindley. More than 100 players are expected to participate in the free event. A ”coaches handbook” with practice plans etc., will be presented to all coaches who attend. “This can be the model for everybody,” says Faulkens, IHSAA Assistant Commissioner in charge of baseball. “I’m going to call folks in South Bend, Evansville and Fort Wayne to say you need to be here to see it because we’re probably going to do the same thing (in those communities).” Says Estep, “That would be cool. They could see it and say we want this.” NSR, a national company based in Birmingham, Ala., was founded in 1980 and helps student-athletes and families through the college recruiting process. “I talk to college coaches daily — our organization does,” says Galyean, NSR Area Director based in central Indiana. “We’re family-owned.” Other events are being planned and there is talk of having a game(s) — likely to be called the Oscar Charleston Classic — at Victory Field in downtown Indianapolis — home of the Triple-A Indians. Galyean, who came to NSR as a father then a scout then a licensee, has known Roundtripper founder/University High School head coach Estep for many years and had his boys play and coach for Estep’s Indiana Mustangs travel organization. Andrews is Director of Athletics for Roundtripper and assistant coach at University. “We want to make these inner-city kids understand that they can play (college baseball) as well,” says Galyean. “I just want to give back to these kids. “It’s about helping them get what they need and get to the next level.” Galyean and his group place an emphasis placed on academics. “We talk about how important it is and the benefit of taking the ACT and SAT early,” says Galyean. “We talk about when to start the process. “We talk about how important grades are.” Galyean says he always gets positive feedback from parents after seminars that the importance of grades is stressed. The discussion includes finding a place that’s the right fit and that it is a four-year experience. “We want to make it the best four-year experience possible,” says Galyean. “It’s about what’s really true about the process. “We want to dispel all the myths and untruths of the procedure.” Owens is Digital Content Creator for NSR Midwest. Since 1996, Indy RBI has been the proud exclusive Indianapolis affiliate of Major League Baseball’s RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) initiative. Over 25,000 boys and girls ages 3-18 have played in Indy RBI, the area’s premier urban baseball and softball program. It’s the biggest affiliate in the country without a Major League Baseball franchise. Lennox is Executive Director at Indy RBI. ScoutUsPro is a global database connecting athletes with scouts, managers, agents and matchmakers. Wade, an Indianapolis Broad Ripple High School graduate who played 12 pro baseball including four in MLB, is Director of Baseball Operations for ScoutUs Pro.