Eagles baseball leads nation in ERA

Led by Zach Schneider, Eagles pitchers had the lowest ERA in the nation at 2.54. (Photo by Tom Hagerty, Polk State.)
Led by Zach Schneider, Eagles pitchers had the lowest ERA in the nation at 2.54. (Photo by Tom Hagerty, Polk State.)

Polk State baseball ranked first in NJCAA D1 this season with a 2.54 team earned run average.  

It marks the third time in seven seasons under Head Coach Al Corbeil and pitching coach Brad Cook that the Eagles have led the nation in ERA. 

Earned run average measures a pitcher's effectiveness by calculating the average number of earned runs scored against the pitcher in every nine innings pitched. 

Seven of 12 Eagle pitchers posted an ERA under 3.00: 

In 54 games, the pitching staff struck out 479 hitters while walking only 132 walks -- second in the country. 

Eagles hurlers held opponents to a .252 batting average and combined for eight shutouts. 

What was the key to this year's staff leading nation in ERA? 

"I am continually impressed with Coach Cook and his ability to get the most out of our arms," said Corbeil. 

"I believe his ability to develop arms is second to none, and we had some really good arms this season.   

"Our philosophy from day one is to throw strikes with multiple pitches. We finished second in the country in walks allowed at 132, so we forced teams to string multiple hits together to beat us, and that's sometimes a tough thing to do. 

"Being able to attack hitters with multiple pitches and limit walks is a big reason our program led the country in ERA." 

Corbeil and Cook stick to a consistent style of pitching: attack hitters with location, movement, and change of speed. 

"It's pitching, not just throwing," said Corbeil. "It's easier said than done.

 "Our guys go through a lot of preparation to get ready to take the mound in the spring.
"As far as style, Coach Cook certainly doesn't take a cookie-cutter approach to our pitchers and their mechanics.  We had probably as diverse a pitching staff as we've ever had in terms of arm angles and mechanics and he does a great job working with their strengths and tweaking mechanics to get results. " 
 Although baseball analysts have many new statistics with which to determine a pitcher's effectiveness, Corbeil still believes ERA offers a meaningful way to evaluate a pitcher and a pitching staff.
"Without a doubt, as a pitcher, certain things like errors are out of your control, but runs win and lose games," he said.

"So using the earned runs allowed by a pitcher says a lot about how effective a pitcher navigates through an opponent's lineup. If you have a low ERA, you should be in a lot of games and win a lot of games. " 

The Eagles certainly did that this season, finishing 41-13 and winning their fourth straight Suncoast Conference championship.