College Baseball: Miller shines in final collegiate game
It’s time to move on for Tory Miller.
The redshirt senior for the Minnesota State University, Mankato Mavericks baseball team will not be back for another season despite the ability to return for another season after his senior year was canceled because of COVID-19.
Miller said he enjoyed his time at Mankato, but it’s time for the next phase of his life.
“At this point, I’m done and I’ve kind of accepted that,” Miller said. “You almost have to move on with life. Going into six years would be challenging for me.”
The former Brainerd Warrior graduates this spring with a construction management degree. He’ll return to Brainerd this summer to work and play Victory League baseball with the Nisswa Lightning.
“I plan on playing Victory League until I’m 80 years old,” Miller said with a laugh.
Miller’s final game as a Maverick was one of his best. On the mound, Miller got the only batter he faced out. It was his first mound appearance in college. At the plate, he finished 1-for-1 with a double. Mankato lost the game 13-0 to Ashland March 12 in Davenport, Fla.
“Everybody was kind of joking with me, too, saying that’s the way to go out,” Miller said. “It was definitely cool to get on the mound again. It had been a while since that happened. I was joking around with a couple of my coaches saying how I had played every position except pitcher and catcher. Everybody thought I would have caught before I pitched, but I ended up on the mound first.”
Miller said the team had a feeling it might be their last game for a while, but nobody realized it would be their final game of the season.
“Going into that game we were all kind of joking about it saying ‘oh this is the last game of our career’ and stuff,” Miller said. “Everybody just thought it was kind of a joke and nobody really took it seriously. Turns out it was.
“At first there’s a lot of disbelief. Everybody was kind of in shock. Everybody thought the season would start up again and we wouldn’t be canceled-canceled. At first, it was just postponed. Then a week later they canceled it. It was heartbreaking, to say the least.”
The team was on the plane home from Florida when the official word came down
“Normally, when your career is getting close to being done, you know when your last game is going to be,” Miller said. “You can kind of go into those final games thinking this could be my last game, this could be my last at-bat. When your season ends like that, all you can do is look back and say I played my last game without even knowing it.”
Miller played in five games in the field and pitched in one this year. At the plate, he was 2-of-7 with a double, run scored and a walk. He added three sacrifices and finished with a .286 batting average.
“Mankato was a blast,” Miller said. “I don’t regret too much. I made the right decision to come down here. This was the right school for me. I wouldn’t change a thing.”
Miller appeared in 46 games last season. He started 16 and finished with a .179 batting average with two doubles, four RBIs, six walks and a .288 on-base percentage.
He hit .257 with 26 hits, three doubles, 11 walks, 15 RBIs and 13 runs in 47 games as a sophomore.
Miller redshirted between his freshman and sophomore season. As a collegiate rookie, he started five of the 18 games he played. He notched three hits and three runs scored.
“It’s tough not playing right now,” Miller said. “A lot of the guys are sticking around campus here and we’re trying to find stuff to do. We’re playing each other every day in spike ball and basketball. We’re just trying to find ways to compete. It’s definitely tough, especially now that it’s getting nice out and not being able to be on the field.
“As a senior, you tell everybody that the years go by fast. You kind of shrug it off when you’re younger, but as you become a senior it tends to become a real thing and you understand it a lot more. You really do need to enjoy every minute of it. It’s probably the four or five best years of your life and so you need to enjoy every minute of it.”
Other former area athletes competing at Mankato
Brainerd’s Joe Klang is a kicker and punter on the Minnesota State University Mankato football team.
Brainerd’s Zach Henke is a member of the Minnesota State University Mankato track and field team.
Brainerd’s Katie Streiff is a member of the Minnesota State University Mankato women’s swimming and diving team.
School: Minnesota State University, Mankato
Year: Redshirt senior
Former: Brainerd High School