BY CARA SHUMAKER
Name: Ian Stiffler
Stiffler’s week: Ian Stiffler took the mound for the seventh time this season as the Somerset Eagles faced the Huntingdon Bearcats in the District 6 AAA semifinal where the Eagles won 1-0.
Stiffler tossed 13 strikeouts in the showdown. On top of the 86 pitches – 58 of which were strikes – Stiffler scored the lone run.
The run came after teammate Ross Dirienzo hit a sac-fly to second and the catcher committed an error. Despite the error, Stiffler got caught in a rundown between third and home because he left the bag too early. Stiffler beat the rundown in a controversial home-plate call, giving the Eagles the only run of the game.
Season thus far: “This season has gone great,” said Stiffler, who boasts a 3.42 ERA in seven appearances and 30.2 innings pitched. “I’m pretty pleased with the team,” he added.
Somerset is 17-4 this year and is preparing for the District 6 AAA title game. “The team feels confident when (Stiffler) is on the mound,” Eagles head coach Steve Costea said. “Offensively and defensively he has helped. He brings out the best in the team.”
Costea said Stiffler has been the go-to guy this year and has relied on him since he was a freshman.
“My sophomore year I came around and I had to step up because the starting pitcher got hurt,” Stiffler said. “I learned the game more and there are games where it is on my shoulders.”
Growth: Since Stiffler has been part of the team since his freshman year, he has had plenty of learning moments. However, he has also had time to grow as a pitcher and as a leader.
“He grew a lot as a pitcher this year,” Costea said. “He went from a thrower to a pitcher.”
Costea said Stiffler has three pitches he can throw for strikes – a fastball, a curve and a changeup. He has developed command of each.
Adding to his growth as a pitcher, Stiffler feels he grew as a leader.
“It taught me how to be a better leader and that I need to be the biggest leader I can,” Stiffler said.
What’s next: Stiffler is slated to graduate from Somerset High School this year and has committed to Virginia Commonwealth University. At VCU he will continue playing baseball and he expects to be a starting pitcher.