CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Tyler Jay is the ace pitcher on an Illinois pitching staff that is the Big Ten’s most dominant, with 12 wins, 130 strikeouts, and 135 innings pitched. After putting his first career Big Ten Pitcher of the Week honor right in his pocket, after his two save, one win, three hits over 7.2 innings campaign last week, the Lemont, Illinois, native spoke with College Baseball Central about his hot start.
“It’s awesome,” Jay remarked. “Everything is going super-fast right now, and I just want to make sure I am doing the best I can whenever I am out there. Our pitching is really a site to see, and I want to do whatever is asked of me, and not take away from our other guys’ hard work.”
Jay, who has three wins and four saves, owns an ERA of 0.00 this year, and opponents are hitting just .121, as the hurler has taken 20.1 innings of work to strike out 23 batters, and earn national recognition.
The Illini’s pitching staff, under fourth-year pitching coach Drew Dickinson, has grown into a formidable arm’s corp.
In 2012 pitching posted a 4.77 ERA, and came back stronger in 2013 with a 3.76 ERA, culminating with a record breaking season in 2014, as the Fighting Illini nailed a school record 3.25 ERA to the board. To date in 2015, Illinois pitching boasts a 2.06 ERA while holding opponents to a .195 batting average.
“Our guys are getting it done,” Jay pointed out. “Our team has a tremendous amount of confidence. Our guys can really swing it as well.”
Along with being tied for first in the Big Ten in saves (6), Illinois actually holds five top 10 national pitching categories. They are first in WHIP (0.90), third in hits allowed per nine innings (6.25), fourth in base-on-balls allowed per nine innings (1.88), fifth in K/9 (4.33) and tenth in ERA (2.06).
Jay has been the common denominator in all of the above mentioned stats.
“I am just doing my role to make sure my team wins,” Jay added. “I need to stay aggressive, run the ball up there with speed, and gauge myself for what I need to do each weekend. I have learned that I can use more than just two pitches out of the closer spot, and although all those stats are good for my parents to look at, I just want to do my part to make sure my team wins.”
Jay is like a Swiss Army knife right now for the Illini. He just does whatever head coach Dan Hartleb needs, whenever he needs it. Start on the weekend, come in and get the save, pitch in the sixth and seventh frames in mid-week action, it doesn’t matter, Jay is the tool that gets the job done.