Starting trio leads the way for Omaha pitching


Jordan McAlpine

Sophomore Caleb Riedel ranks currently second in the country in ERA. Photo courtesy of Omaha Athletics.

Coming into the 2022 season, Evan Porter wasn’t quite sure what the pitching was going to look like for his Omaha Mavericks. There was experience and excitement about some of the transfers who had joined the program, but there was still some unknown about what that staff would look like this season.

Fast forward to May, and there is little doubt about the rotation, as three guys have stepped up in a big way — sophomores Caleb Riedel and Charlie Bell, and senior Mark Timmins. The three have solidified themselves as Omaha’s weekend rotation and the trio has anchored the Mavericks to a strong 2022 campaign.

“Those guys have been huge for us all season and given us a chance to win in each game that they’ve pitched in,” Porter said. “So that’s really all you can ask of your starting pitching and they’ve gone above and beyond. All three of those guys are bulldogs. They’ve gone out there and been really good for us and even some days when they’re not, they keep us within one or two runs and give us a chance.”

All three have set the tone when they’re on the mound and brought stability to the pitching staff. They’ve also given their team a chance in nearly every outing, something that has been key for the Mavericks this season. Omaha has won eight one-run games so far this season.

Porter said a lot of the credit goes to the pitching as a whole, which goes beyond just the three. A lot of the credit also goes to pitching coach Payton Kinney.

“Pitching and defense have really been the key for us this season and guys have fed off of each other,” Porter said. “All of those guys have done a good job of pushing each other to be better. But there was a lot of work done throughout the fall and winter to get ready for this spring too, and PK deserves all of the credit.”

Riedel, who recently lost a streak of 31 consecutive scoreless innings, ranks second in the NCAA in ERA (0.86). The Millard West product has especially flourished this season and he also praised the work Kinney has done. Riedel has racked up 42 strikeouts across 41.2 innings and the ERA speaks for itself.

A transfer from Iowa Western, Riedel said he, Bell and Timmins have simply tried to go out and give it their all in every outing. That has also sparked some internal competition as the three have been able to feed off each other.

“We’ve all pushed each other to be better,” Riedel said. “I think it helps give our hitters little confidence going into games too, knowing that the majority of the time you have a shot to win the game. Plus it gives the other pitchers a bit of security knowing if we do our jobs and they do their jobs we’ll have a good chance to win a lot of games.”

With less than a month left in the regular season, pitching will be key down the stretch.

“This is a hard part of the season for everybody getting into the end of April,” Porter said. “Everybody goes through it at some point, but there can be some fatigue. Plus finals are coming up and getting through that stretch where they don’t have to worry about school for the last couple of weeks, it can be hard.

“Plus there’s been a lot of wear and tear on the body. So, if we can stay healthy and keep these guys in good spirits over these next few weeks, I think that’ll be huge for success.”