04/10/2016 3:41 PM -
Whiting, Ind. – April 10, 2016 – Eric Frontzak enjoyed his experience playing summer baseball in New York a year ago, but the months away left him with the desire to stay close to home in 2016.
When coach Jake Sabol mentioned the Northwest Indiana Oilmen, the Alma College pitcher jumped at the opportunity to play for the Region’s team.
“It’s only an hour away from my house,” Frontzak said. “I saw the competition and said, ‘Great, it looks like it will be a good fit.’”
The sophomore right-hander from Naperville, Ill. has heaved 6 2/3 innings so far this season, holding a 1-0 record with three saves to go along with a 2.70 ERA.
“He’s developed into a backend guy for us,” Sabol said. “He’s got some velocity; he’s got a pretty good breaking ball. He’s working on his command. He’s become reliable at the end of games. When I talked to coach Enright, I thought it was a good opportunity for him to get into a quality league close to home against some good competition.”
Frontzak said he wants to work on mixing in more breaking pitches, changing his looks and pitch selection and incorporating his changeup and sinker over the summer.
He’s most confident in his ability to perform in pressure situations, hence his success in closing out games for the Scots this season.
“He’s a hard worker, probably one of the hardest working guys we’ve got on the team,” Sabol said. “He really wants to be successful. I wouldn’t be sending him off to a quality league if I didn’t think he could compete. He’s going to do whatever you ask.”
That attitude is molded by Frontzak’s desire to join the military after college if baseball doesn’t work out. He believes many of the qualities held by military personnel shine through on the baseball diamond.
“I never quit on the mound,” he said. “That helps me in those big pressure situations. I don’t get rattled in those hard spots. I’ve always wanted to join the military because of how I’ve grown up. I feel obligated to do it.”
Frontzak’s favorite baseball memory came while playing in the Connie Mack Tournament for the Downers Grove Longshots before his freshman year of college.
“It was the semifinals and we were playing a supposedly much better Illinois Sparks team,” Frontzak said. “I pitched against them, and we ended up beating them. There were a lot of D-I prospects on that team, so that was nice.”
Frontzak’s velocity is in the mid to upper 80s, and he projects as a player who could reach the low-90s in the near future. Sabol said there’s no reason to think Frontzak can’t develop into an all-conference closer in the next year or two.
Sabol has fond memories of playing summer baseball in Alaska, Boston and Kansas. He knows the value of the time Frontzak is set to spend with the Oilmen beginning next month.
“The biggest thing is learning from others and learning about other programs,” Sabol said. “Learning from other coaches, talking with teammates and playing against better competition. It’s all about learning on the fly and picking up some little things that maybe I would not have given him.”