Baseball: Twins recognize dream season by Jendro, Skis
Tyler Jendro's season stats 14-0 record 107 innings pitched 107 strikeouts 13 walks 61 hits allowed 17 runs allowed 10 earned runs allowed 0.84 ERA Tyler Jendro had the kind of season that every baseball player dreams of from the first time they ...
Tyler Jendro's season stats
107 innings pitched
61 hits allowed
17 runs allowed
10 earned runs allowed
Tyler Jendro had the kind of season that every baseball player dreams of from the first time they pick up a bat and glove as a kid.
His unbelievable season as a pitcher in the Victory League for the Sobieski Skis was capped by a record smashing-performance in the Minnesota Class C state tournament where he won all six games, four of them complete-game shutouts, including a no-hitter, and also drove in the winning run in three games.
His efforts led the Skis to the state championship, earned him the tournament MVP award and caught the attention of the Minnesota Twins.
While some could reasonably argue the Twins might be able to use his talent on the mound this year, the invitation was from Joe Pohlad, director of productions and creative services, to throw out a ceremonial first pitch and honor the entire team before Sunday's 14-4 loss to the Los Angeles Angels.
Jendro's six tournament wins erased the previous record of five set by Brad Keenan of Glyndon in 1995. And his 41.2 innings pitched toppled the previous record of 36 that was set by Austin's Jim Lawler in 1958. He allowed one earned run for a miniscule ERA of 0.22, gave up 19 hits, struck out 44 and walked only three in his 41.2 innings.
"You always dream about winning a championship and what a cool feeling it would be, and then for it to happen the way it did - it was incredible, it was awesome," said Jendro.
Jendro graduated from Royalton High School in 2006, played for St. Cloud Technical College in 2008, earning third-team All-American honors, and then played at Southwest Minnesota State University of Marshall in 2010 and 2011.
Sobieski went undefeated (13-0) during the regular season with Jendro picking up five wins as part of a rotation that included Nate Olson, Joey Hanowski, Riley Hirsch and Josh Wenzel.
The Skis breezed through the West Division playoffs, winning three seven-inning games with the 26-year-old Jendro throwing five shutout innings as a starter in the second game, a 12-0 win over Upsala.
Then came the Region 8 double-elimination playoffs where the Skis struggled for the first time of the season, barely qualifying for the state tournament, but it was there that Jendro came alive on the mound.
He opened the region tournament by throwing a seven-inning complete-game two-hit 10-0 shutout over Buckman, striking out eight and walking none.
After a 5-3 loss to Fort Ripley, Jendro took the mound again, this time for another 10-0 seven-inning complete-game shutout over Upsala in a win that assured the Skis of a playoff berth. Once again he didn't walk a batter while striking out eight and allowing six hits.
The Skis then lost 5-3 to Nisswa in the final game, but advanced as the fourth and final seed out of Region 8.
"We just didn't hit well (in the two losses)," said Jendro, who's a benefit counselor for Colonial Life Insurance in St. Cloud. "We hit a lot of balls hard, but right at people. It didn't go as we had hoped, but at the same time we got a couple of wins and got to state. I guess it goes to show no matter what seed you are, anything can happen."
Jendro said that before the region he just wasn't pitching well.
"I wasn't hitting the corners and I wasn't down at the knees. I don't know why," he said. "Lucky enough for us at the region everything started coming back and going the way it should be."
In his last eight appearances in the region and state tournaments, Jendro walked just three batters in 55.2 innings.
"I don't walk people, I hate walking people," he said. "I hate giving bases away so I try to keep the batter off balance with different pitches so they can't just sit on a fastball.
"My favorite pitch is my fastball. I can throw it where I want to, down at the knees with a little bit of a wavy movement. If they can get on it, they're not going to do much with it. It's a very successful pitch for me and I get a lot of ground outs with it."
At the state tournament, Jendro opened with a 2-0 win over Hanska Aug. 17, allowing just two hits and one walk while striking out 12.
On Aug. 22, he pitched another nine innings to defeat pre-tournament favorite Maple Lake 4-1. Once again, he only walked one while giving up six hits and striking out nine.
Saturday, Aug. 30, was the start of four Labor Day weekend games culminating in the state title.
Jendro shut down New Market with a 4-0 no-hitter, the 21st no-hitter in the 78-year history of the tournament. He struck out 14 and walked only one, that coming with two outs in the bottom of the ninth.
Kyle Peterschick started the next game Sunday morning, but it was Jendro picking up the win, pitching the final three innings of a 4-1 win over Fergus Falls in 11 innings.
Sunday night's game with Faribault was delayed by rain in the third with Sobieski trailing 1-0. Play resumed Monday morning and once again, Jendro was called on in relief for the final 2.2 innings, picking up his fifth win as the Skis rallied to win 2-1.
Then there was a half-hour break before the championship game.
"I went to talk with Tyler down the right field line before the start of the championship game," Sobieski coach Brad Czech said. "I asked him what he thought, and he simply looked at me and said 'I want the ball.'
"When a player like Tyler gives you that kind of response, it makes it a pretty easy decision. The amazing thing is that he started out the game pitching from the stretch and throwing sidearm to conserve as much energy as possible.
"Once he got into the middle of the game, I think he realized he had enough left in the tank to go the distance, so he went back to his normal pitching mechanics."
Jendro did some stretching and ran a little bit before the championship game, trying to stay loose, but he wasn't nervous and his arm felt better as the game progressed.
"The longer the game went, it kind of warmed up out there, the sun came out and I actually got looser as the game went along," he said.
A movie writer couldn't have drafted a more dramatic script for the title game with the New Ulm Brewers.
In the top of the fifth, Brewers pitcher Mitch Kelly hit Jendro with a fastball on his left, non-pitching hand. A week later, the hand would be swelled to twice the size of his right hand.
"I could hardly squeeze my hand for the rest of the game," said Jendro. "My last two bats were almost impossible. I would just hold my left hand on the bat and swing with my right hand. I could get my glove on, but had to hold my glove a certain way so that the ball would just land in it."
Sobieski's ace right-hander went on to win 2-0, once again not walking a batter while striking out six and allowing seven hits.
But the win did not come easy.
New Ulm threatened several times, including the bottom of the ninth.
Facing the bottom three men in the New Ulm batting order, Jendro struck out the first hitter on three pitches and got the next batter to ground out.
He was one strike away from ending the game when the No. 9 batter hit a grounder that handcuffed the Skis' second baseman for an error.
Jendro then got two strikes on New Ulm's leadoff batter before he left a pitch over the plate that Aaron Pfaff ripped for a double to put runners at second and third.
That brought up Garrett Fischer and for the third consecutive hitter, Jendro again got within one strike of a championship clinching strikeout.
Fischer lifted a 2-2 pitch to right field that Aaron Hennes parked under and squeezed in his glove, touching off a celebration as the Skis mobbed Jendro.
It was a pitch and a sight that Jendro will remember forever.
"It was a slider which is a good pitch for me," he said. "It looks like my fastball and started at about the hitter's hips. Hennes has been playing in the outfield for something like 15 or 17 years and has been unbelievable. He's been talking about hanging it up so it was fitting that the last ball would go to him.
"Just seeing the faces of all the guys that rushed the field after he made that catch, it's something that I will never forget. It was unbelievable."
As for his future, Jendro hopes to be playing ball for many years.
"As long as I can play and can still help the team win, I'm going to keep playing," he said. "I love to compete in general and especially in baseball. There is no way I would be able to hang it up anytime soon."