07/18/2014 10:07 AM -
Take one glance at the statistical line of Oilmen right-handed pitcher Scott Jerge, and the improvement from 2013 to 2014 is evident.
After posting a 6.75 ERA in eight games last summer, Jerge is among the most improved players in the Midwest Collegiate League, with an ERA of 1.92 through his first eight appearances this season. He has displayed much better control, issuing five walks this year after totaling 11 bases on balls in 15 2/3 innings a year ago.
“The biggest difference right now is that I’m going right after guys,” Jerge said. “I’m throwing every pitch I have for strikes in any count, compared to last year, where I was pitching around guys and not going after them. I think that’s the biggest difference right now, going right after hitters.”
Jerge has been a swingman for the Oilmen, working as a spot starter and in long relief. With the team in the midst of a busy stretch of baseball to close the regular season, Jerge will fill an even more important role than he did through the first half of the summer.
The Valparaiso University right-hander has had no trouble pitching in relief or starting games. He was effective in each of his first two starts of the year, going three scoreless innings on June 17 against Michigan City before allowing one run over five frames against Joliet on June 26.
“Coming out of the bullpen has been in the fifth inning or sixth inning and it’s usually been long relief, so that’s the same feel as starting a game,” Jerge said.
Jerge, a Munster graduate, is a member of the all-local Oilmen bullpen clique. The group is comprised of fellow Munster alum Anthony Gomez, Bishop Noll graduate and bullpen elder statesman Matt Pobereyko, Whiting’s Andrew Lowe, Kankakee Valley’s Andrew Jackson, Portage’s Kevin Jones and Lake Central’s Aaron Glatt.
“Out of the bullpen, we have a bunch of guys that are from the area hanging out and talking,” Jerge said. “I think that’s the biggest difference between this year and last year, not too many kids from the area were on last year’s team.”
Since relief pitchers are typically not called upon until the sixth inning or later, members of the Oilmen bullpen spend the first five innings chatting and watching the game.
“We’re always into the game,” Jerge said. “We try to get in the opposing team’s heads, whether it’s the right fielder or the center fielder. We help the umps out and try to change their minds. We’re always involved in the game, that’s big. We watch the game and see the hitters’ approaches.”
One of Jerge’s goals for the duration of the season is to improve on putting hitters away once he gains an 0-2 or 1-2 advantage in the count. He knows the high-caliber of hitting in the MCL will continue to make each appearance on the mound a challenge.
“It’s always competitive,” Jerge said. “Especially with the Vikings of late, it’s tough pitching against them. Every pitch counts, every pitch matters. It’s something I need to work on because last year I would take pitches off.”