By Steve Robinson | July 7, 2018 - 10:37 pm
Posted in Category: Normal Cornbelters, The Normalite

Normal CornBelters pitcher Jack Landwehr smiles when he explains he played college baseball while attending Illinois State University , graduating in May 2017, but had to be discovered by the team at a Frontier League tryout in California during this past off-season.

In the year he was waiting to be picked up, Landwehr played college summer ball “just to try to get some looks” by teams, he said. “But, unfortunately, nothing panned out.” But going to the California Winter League in Palm Springs this past January aided Landwehr being found and signed by the CornBelters.

Going into games last Saturday, Landwehr pitched 38 innings in his last seven games striking out 29 and walking 8 while carrying a 2.60 earned run average, putting him among the top three pitchers on Manager Billy Horn’s squad.

Landwehr had a 2-2 record when he and I sat down for a chat before games played July 6 and will turn 24 Aug. 16. He said the ‘Belters’ current situation of being in next to last place in the league’s Western Division just a few games away from hitting .500 “doesn’t really affect me because I just keep going out and competing each and every time. When I’m on that mound, I’m competing. And when I’m at practice, I’m out there to get better each and every day.”

As a starting pitcher, Landwehr said, “I want to give my team the best chance to win that day and that’s not allowing any runs. Just keep retiring, retiring, retiring batters with next pitch, next pitch, next pitch. Coming out with a lead is the big goal.”

Although he’s a starter now and was one in high school, at ISU, his assignment was as the closer for the Redbirds his last two years there.

The best thing Landwehr said he has enjoyed about being a professional ball player has been working with guys who have played affiliated ball and been through the minor league system. “I’ve just been picking these guys’ brains and just getting better from watching what they do,” he explained.

Landwehr said he and the catchers he’s worked with thus far, Cody Erickson and Tanner Lubach, have “developed just incredible chemistry. I couldn’t have had this start without them because they have called just great games for me. We’ve got incredible chemistry out there and I couldn’t have had this start without them because they are so knowledgeable. Erickson, like Landwehr, is a rookie straight out of Minnesota ’s St. Paul College while Lubach has played for the St. Paul Saints of the American Association.

His folks, John and Maribeth Landwehr, have been down to see him pitch knowing now that he’s working as a starter. “They’re really, really happy for me because they knew I could play at this level and it just took a little bit longer to get picked up,” Landwehr said. “They’ve been a huge support reminding me to keep believing in myself.”

Normal Gets Pitcher Zach Kirby In Trade With Freedom: Prior to opening the final series before the All-Star break, the Normal CornBelters have announced the trade for Zach Kirby from the Florence Freedom for a player to be named later and the release of David Perez.

Kirby joins Normal after he threw five shutout innings with only giving up two hits and one walk against the ‘Belters on Sunday to earn his first victory of the season. He is entering his second stint in the Frontier League as he played for Florence part of last season and was signed to an extension last November. This season Kirby is 1-4 in nine games (5 starts) and has thrown for 35.1 innings along with 19 strikeouts.

Season’s 2nd Half Starts With Otters Visiting: This past week has been Frontier League All-Star Break week at O’Fallon, Mo. , home of the River City Rascals. But it will be back to work for the team Friday as they host Western Division leader Evansville Otters for three games Friday through Sunday, half of a six-game homestand. After the Otters leave and the league-imposed off-day Monday, the Eastern Division leading Washington Wild Things will be at The Corn Crib Tuesday through Thursday, July 17-19. Weekday and Saturday games start with first pitch at 7:05p.m. and Sunday first pitch is at 6:05p.m.

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