Walk-on Robles looks to continue helping ONU to titles

Isaiah Robles knew when he walked on to the baseball team at Olivet Nazarene University, it was going to be far from a Sunday picnic.

But the Armstrong-Potomac graduate was up for the challenge. As a freshman walk-on, he received varsity time and helped the Tigers win a share of the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference South Division Title. And he did not taste defeat.

“College baseball is a step up,” Robles said. “It is a step up from high school and even travel baseball. When you step onto the field with your teammates, you know that every one of them was a decorated high school player. The same can be said of your opponents. We have some incoming seniors with great leadership skills.

Tanner McLain of Rantoul is one of the seniors. Not to mention Ben Hill, our catcher, and pitchers Jon Hentschel and Nick Campe. We are hoping to win lots of games during the 2017-18 campaign.”

Robles made 14 appearances and pitched 15 1/3 innings this year. He finished with a 1-0 mark. He allowed six earned runs on 13 hits for a 3.52 earned run average. He fanned 13 and walked six.

“I was pretty happy with the opportunities I was given this year,” Robles said. “I just tried to take advantage of each and every one of them.”

And he continues to do so. During the summer months, the former Armstrong-Potomac athlete was a member of the Royal Giants of the Eastern Illinois Baseball League. He finished 3-3 with a sub-4.00 earned run average.

“I have been working out using college work-out programs to increase my velocity on my fastball,” Robles said. “During the Eastern Illinois season, I have worked on my slider, curve and change-up.”

On his own, he has been hitting the weight room and doing quite a bit of long toss.

“I am also taking care of my body, especially my arm,” Robles said. “I do quite a bit of stretching and icing my arm. We have great college trainers, and they take tremendous care of us. On a social level, I am hanging out with my teammates to get to know them better off the field.”

Robles performed well enough to earn scholarship money from the Tigers and while he did not start a game this year, it is his ultimate goal.

“I would love to start as soon as next year, but I think that is a long-term goal,” Robles said. “I have had the benefit of meeting some major league players like Ben Heller of the New York Yankees and Josh Altmann of the Texas Rangers. I hope to meet Ben Zobrist of the Chicago Cubs.”

Robles is part of an extremely young pitching staff at ONU. Not a single pitcher with any wins was lost to graduation. Only three players were lost to graduation, but none were pitchers.

Only two of the pitchers finished with losing records, but one of those pitchers finished with a team-leading seven saves. They had had a total of seven pitchers, including Robles, with winning records. One hurler won nine games, while another won seven.

“A high point for me was every time I could help my team win by holding a lead or getting us out of a jam,” Robles said. “I knew our team was pretty decent when we topped the number four ranked team in the NAIA during our preseason trip to Florida. A low point for me was giving up my first earned run of my college career on a home run. It was the cliche ‘welcome to college baseball.’ I wish we could have won the CCAC Tournament.”

sports@rantoulpress.com

Categories (4):Prep Sports, Baseball, Misc., Sports

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