Junior Jordan Nietzel did not outwardly celebrate after the Rock Bridge baseball team’s home game Monday, but the rest of his team did.
They looked ready to lift Nietzel onto their shoulders as they raced in from the outfield, but settled for high fives and pats on the back. Nietzel nodded and slapped hands but kept the same stern look that he had on the mound.
Nietzel had two RBIs on two hits and pitched the seventh inning to close out Rock Bridge’s 3-2 win against Fulton. But the always reserved Nietzel didn’t even crack a smile.
Nietzel, dubbed the quiet leader of the Bruins (12-7) by his teammates, has seven saves and is batting .320, but doesn’t care to know any of that. He just wants to play baseball.
“I don’t know how many saves I have,” Nietzel said. “I don’t even know how many RBIs I had in this game. I just want to play baseball, and have fun doing it.”
Nietzel used his 5-foot-10, 145-pound frame well, giving batters a hard time with his left-handed, semi-sidearm, approach. But even the black paint smeared into triangles under his eyes like a medieval warrior couldn’t make him look intimidating.
Appearances can be decieving though, and batters found that out againstNietzel, whose ERA is under two this season.
He will never tell you about his ERA or his batting average, but his teammates and coaches are more than willing to talk.
“Nietzel means a lot to this team,” said Ron Widbin, Rock Bridge’s pitching coach. “He’s a great third baseman with a heck of an arm and is an even more valuable closer. He has some serious stuff on the mound, He has one of those 12-to-six curves that other people want to say they have. It looks like he just drops the ball off of a table. He also turns into a different person on the mound. Nothing gets to him because he is so competitive and gets so aggressive.”
Jordan’s father, Tim Nietzel said Jordan takes on a different persona on the mound, but goes right back to being inwardly confident when a game is over.
“I remember Jordan pitching nine innings during the district championship against Tipton in Daniel Boone baseball when he was 13 or 14,” Tim Nietzel said. “He pitched an amazing game and helped his team get the win, but he didn’t talk about it when it was over. He doesn’t feel he has to talk about what he’s done. He will never show emotion when he’s out there. The most he’ll do is pump his arm, but that’s only if he’s extremely excited.”
Junior second baseman Scott Thompson, who has been friends with Nietzel since elementary school, said that Nietzel contributes as much from the bench as he does while he is playing.
“Jordan lifts up the team when we are down because he is always confident and positive,” Thompson said. “He’s always up on the top step cheering, even if we just had a horrible inning. That’s what the team really rallies behind. We always know what to expect from him and we always know that he is behind us. Plus, he has that quiet confidence about him that people flock to.”
Nietzel put the Bruins up 2-1 with a one-out double in the fifth inning, then junior Erik Darkow added an RBI two batters later with a sacrifice fly to center. Fulton’s sixth-inning rally came up short when junior Jack Campbell laid out for a pop up to rob Fulton’s Andrew Hein of a hit and the tying run.
Junior right-hander Brandon Gerau was the winning pitcher against Fulton (9-8) in his first start of the year, giving up two runs on four hits, and striking out eight in five innings before giving way to senior Lane Fanguy. Gerau also had two hits, two stolen bases and scored twice, moving his batting average to .500.
Rock Bridge will host Smith-Cotton at 5 p.m. on Wednesday.