Roberts closes the door on opponentsWritten by Raymond Tomanski | | firstname.lastname@example.org
If you hear Semisonic’s one-hit wonder ”Closing Time” at Scott Park late in the game, you know it is time for junior Joe Roberts to close out the games for the Toledo Rockets’ baseball team.
The right-handed closer has been a key figure who has helped the school’s baseball club to its best start in years as he leads the Mid-American Conference with 10 saves this season.
”One of the things that Joe does a great job of is keeping his composure and really not letting things affect him,” UT head coach Cory Mee said. ”You need to have a closer like that with that kind of mentality. He’s been a strike-throwing machine, and that time of the game you need to have a guy on the mound who is really going to pound the strike-zone.”
While attending Whiteford High School, it was baseball that showed Roberts’ natural talent.
As a junior, he recorded a 7-2 record while striking out 77 batters in 44 innings pitched. In his senior year, Roberts was awarded first-team all-state honors after pitching to a 7-4 record, with a 2.51 ERA in 61 innings pitched and a strikeout count of 93.
Roberts started his collegiate career at Lansing Community College in East Lansing. After sitting out the 2003 season as a medical redshirt, Robert went 4-2 in the 2004 season with 41 strikeouts in 45 innings pitched.
He was recruited by UT assistant coach Matt Husted.
”Everything in the recruiting process we heard about him was these great things,” Mee said. ”He seemed like the type of person we want in our program.”
During the 2005 season, Roberts was third on the team in total appearances (16) in a relief role and fourth in opponent batting average. Despite sporting an 0-2 record with a 7.24 ERA, and surrendering 30 runs (26 unearned) on 40 hits with 18 strikeouts in his 32.1 innings for UT, Roberts showed potential Mee wanted for Toledo.
Through the 2006 season so far, Roberts has improved his ERA to 2.45, struck out nine hitters and has given up only four earned runs on 12 hits during his 14 game appearances.
Roberts’ highlight of the season was earning his first win late in the game that helped Toledo pull a 10-9 upset win over the University of Michigan at Ray Fisher Stadium on April 12.
The Rockets have improved their record to surpass last year’s win total of 15 with half the regular schedule left.