Relieving The Pressure
Updated: Aug 20, 2019
By Matthew Ondesko, Managing Editor Photos courtesy of Canisius College Athletics
Walking up to Canisius College the last thing you would think is it’s baseball season. The weather is the typical Western New York weather in February - cold, dank with gray clouds.
The sun doesn’t shine that much during these times, but the boys of spring are out there getting their licks in. Baseball season is in full swing for the Golden Griffins. While the clouds are as gray as ever in WNY, the weather is nice down south - and that’s where the Griffs are playing their ball right now.
Kyle Warner is used to this type of weather. The junior reliever pitched his high school ball at Springville-Griffith. He is used to seeing all type of stuff when on the mound, whether it’s snow, rain, hail or sunshine - and that can all be during a course of a game.
“It’s definitely tough,” stated Warner. “But, once you get out on the mound you have so much adrenaline that you are feeling hot. Once you are on the mound it’s not really a big deal. Sitting in the dugout is worse.”
While at Springville, Warner was used to be the man. He was the guy that wanted the ball in big time situations. If it was a big game then more than likely it was Warner that was pitching it. When the playoffs came around it was Warner that made sure he got the ball.
But, like most high school starters, the path is a little different in college. A lot of starting pitchers in high school find a different role in college. Kieran Higgins of Bishop Timon High School is just one example.
He was an excellent starter for the Tigers, but finds himself in the bullpen at Coastal Carolina - a role he knows loves.
Warner is the same way. A dominating performer, who got the ball every couple of days in high school, now finds himself in the bullpen with the Griffs.
“It was weird at first, but I kind of adapted to that,” stated Warner. “It has taken some getting used to for sure, but you except your role. But, I am ready to pursue that and get better. It’s not a real huge difference (between starting and relieving), but I really think about when I get out there is get that guy out, get that guy out. It’s the same as a starter too, you are just trying to do it as many times as you can.”
While the transition was as hard as it might have sounded. It’s the fact that he didn’t see that field as much in the beginning of his college career. Most athletes want to see the field as much as possible and Warner is the same way.
It didn’t matter that he was a freshman, Warner thought he could make a difference on the mound for the Griffs. It’s the competitive nature in him. So, when he didn’t see the field as much as he wanted to, that may have been the biggest transition.
“Freshman year I wasn’t relied on as much as I would have liked,” stated Warner. “That’s kind of what I expected coming in as a freshman. Sophomore year I kind of had a different role in the bullpen. This year is looking better for sure. Hopefully, I will be that guy they are looking for to come out of that pen - and be a huge part (of the team) this year.”
But, that was two years ago. This season Warner is expected to a be a key member of the Griffs' pen. A talented lefty, Warner isn’t too concerned where they pitch him. He has the confidence to get people out no matter what the situation is.
That’s what makes a solid reliever. No matter what the situations is, or how many people are on base, they have the confidence to come in and shut people down. For Warner it’s more about making the right pitch in the situation.
“It’s really about exciting every pitch that you can,” explained Warner. “I know what happens when you don’t, but you just try to execute every pitch.”
Relievers, however, don’t get it right all the time - just like starters. There are days that a reliever is called into the game and things just go horrible wrong. The mental side of pitching is just as important as the physical side.
Anyone with that kind of gift can get on the mound and take care of business, as they say. What makes any player elite is how they bounce back from the disappointment of not doing their job. Being able to bound back after a bad performance is key to the success of any pitcher, or hitter.
Being able to just brush it aside is the difference between just being good and being great.
“You just really have to try and flip the switch,” said Warner. “No matter what happened you just have to focus on what’s in front off you at that point.”