BY ANDREAS BUTLER
Ryan Gonzalez was the only Bethune-Cookman University baseball player who had his name called during last week’s Major League Baseball draft.
“I was very excited. I was happy for myself and for my family. I got plenty of calls from family members that day. Everyone was really emotional,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez helped lead the Wildcats to a 34-27 record this season along with their seventh straight MEAC title and NCAA Regional appearance.
“This season I just focused on pitching. I wasn’t worried about where I would be drafted. I knew that I had a chance to get drafted,” responded Gonzalez.
The 6’4, 210-pound senior right-hander from Aricebo, Puerto Rico, went 9-2 on the mound with a 2.15 ERA. He struck out 82 batters in 92 innings.
“I just stayed calm on the mound. I focused on having a smooth release and attacking the lower half of the strike zone. That was the key for me. I also was able to have control,’’ Gonzalez added.
“He really came into his own this year. He has a tremendous work effort. He did exactly what was asked of him and he provided us with a No. 1 starter all year,” added Jason Beverlin, first-year B-CU head baseball coach.
Fought through injuries
Throughout his Wildcats career, Gonzalez battled nagging injuries but eventually blossomed into an ace hurler thanks to hard work, perseverance and determination.
For his career, Gonzalez went 12-8 with a 3.51 ERA, 172 strikeouts and 182.3 innings pitched. In addition, he had three complete games and combined on six shutouts.
“I had a great time playing here. My first two years I had minor arm injuries that set me back. I also had to get use to throwing everyday and I had to adjust to college baseball. I was able to overcome some things,” stated Gonzalez.
Gonzalez’ selection in this year’s draft makes it six straight years that a Bethune-Cookman player has been drafted.
This shows the level of talent coming through the program.
“We have a definite track record of getting kids to the next level. We should see it improve in years to come,” said Beverlin.
Gonzalez echoed,” Our program is just like the big ones. We focus on hard work and integrity. We don’t get the fan support that we like. We do all that we can to get fans to the game. In the end, we don’t let it bother us; we just continue to work hard.”
Now Gonzalez will work toward pitching in the Majors.
He will play for the Grand Junction Rockies in western Colorado, which is a Class A affiliate that plays in the Pioneer League. The season runs 76 games from June through July.
“I want to become a big league pitcher. I will work hard with a lot of hunger and give it my all,” Gonzalez added.
Track and field: Clarke 17th in nation
Kemar Clarke (13.87s) finished 17th in the 110m hurdles at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, last week.
Clarke also placed 19th nationally last year in the same event.
“It’s an honor to have coached him. He has represented us well throughout his career. He has had consecutive national championship appearances,” commented Donald Cooper, head track and field coach.
On Tuesday, Clarke received All-American honors. He garnered 2011-12 U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Association All-American honorable mention honors. Clarke also received honorable mention honors following the 2010-11 season.
Clarke concludes his collegiate career but will continue to compete in the sport. His career best time in the 110m hurdles is 13.65 seconds.
He has qualified for the Jamaican National Olympic Trials, which will take place on June 24 in Kingston, Jamaica.