By Arnie Leshin
Nathan Dettmer felt redeemed, today Notre Dame, Wednesday Oklahoma.
Dettmer is a senior righthanded pitcher who cried in his Omaha hotel room. He was going on the trust of his head coach to put the baseball season in his hands. It’s a story about how the past often doesn’t matter in baseball, our national pastime. Just imagine tossing a pitcher out to he hill who has a top heavy 37.80 earned run average, namely righthander Dettmer. Here you go, in 10.1 innings, 18 hits, 17 runs. Until then his ERA was just south of 11.
Still, he was named to start game one on the hot afternoon against Notre Dame Tuesday for the Southeastern Conference Aggies.
It was his chance to overcome recent dismal turns when he let his 5th-seeded Texas A & M teammates down. To this point he had struggled, now he had to regroup when he lined up against the unseeded Fighting Irish in the 2022 NCAA Division World Series. Omaha, Neb., was the place to be and he knew it. Thus, he poured it all out in his room at the Omni Hotel.
Then he hopped on the team bus, sat by a window, and about 20 minutes later in the traffic, pulled up to the Charles Schwab Field. His head coach who called the shots wasn’t in sight, but his pitching coach Nate Yeskie was right there walking alongside him.
Said the long-time coach later: “You think of however many hours ago it was,” said Yeskie. “Nathan was sitting in the dugout feeling like he let his team down. Now he goes out there, does a super job, and is on cloud 9. The same guy, the same ability. Sometimes it’s the breaks, but it’s just baseball.”
And that it is and Dettmer was now the hero of the hour. He took the mound earlier and put up all the Notre Dame zeroes. In seven innings he gave up but three hits, not a single run, and created a day he will always remember. He went the first eight scoreless innings, gave way in the ninth, and soaked up the 5-1 win on a high temperature afternoon. He struck out eight, walked two and, had one wild pitch, and even picked a runner off at first base.
He did what he had to do, kept the Aggies (43-19) around for another day, a rematch with the unseeded, surprising Sooners of the Big 12. A & M already had one loss in the double elimination tournament, and that was the one to Oklahoma in a day he would like to forget.
“It was like forever when I got pulled,” Dettmer said, “Friday night, two days ago because I got the word from coach on Monday. Good, good, I thought.”
And that it was. The highest seed still in the field that began with a cast of 64, Texas A & M got to the once-beaten Fighting Irish quickly. It scored five times over the first six innings then played through a slight threat when Notre Dame (41-17) loaded the bases with no out in the eighth and scored only once as a result of Dettmer’s clutch hurling and poor baserunning.
Four teams still in the hunt, Texas A & M, Oklahoma, Ole Miss and Arkansas. Ousted have been 2nd-seeded Stanford, 9th-seeded Texas, 14th-seeded Auburn and unseeded Notre Dame. Just another day at the ballpark set for sunny Wednesday.