Playing a position as well as pitching isn’t easy. Not at the collegiate level.
“I surely couldn’t do it,” Nebraska Coach Darin Erstad said recently. “I mean, to be out there, to be able to flip from one gear to the next . . .”
You get the idea. So what Jake Meyers has done is remarkable. And he’s done it at a high enough level to earn third-team All-America recognition from Baseball America as a utility player.
Though it goes beyond numbers, consider Meyers’ this season.
Batting lead-off much of the season, the junior from Omaha hit .297, with a team-high .439 on-base percentage. He walked 39 times and was hit by pitches 11 times, and he stole 20 bases in 22 attempts, all team-high totals. He also led the team in runs scored with 52.
And, of course, he played center field when not pitching.
As a pitcher, Meyers, who dealt with back issues late in the season and missed the final game of the Big Ten Tournament, had an 8-2 record and led Nebraska’s starters with a 3.42 earned-run-average in 14 appearances, including a complete-game shutout of Western Carolina.
He walked only nine in 84.1 innings.
“It’s one thing to do it (both) in high school, another thing to be able to do it at a high level in Division I,” Erstad said, including junior Luis Alvarado in discussion. Alvarado played left field and pitched in relief, finishing with a 1.72 ERA and a team-high 10 saves in 16 appearances.
“That’s a credit to their work ethic, credit to their mental toughness and just wanting the baseball,” said Erstad.
Meyers also earned first-team All-Big Ten honors and is a finalist for the John Olerud Two-Way-Player-of-the-Year Award.
Olerud was a two-way player at Washington State before a 17-year major league career as a first baseman.
“He’s deserving of everything he’s getting,” Erstad said of Meyers after the Olerud Award finalists were announced. “And hopefully, it’s not done yet.”
Iowa’s Jake Adams was the only other Big Ten player to earn All-America honors from Baseball America. He was the third-team designated hitter.
Mike is in his 40th year covering Husker athletics, after seven years of community-college teaching. He has written and edited a dozen books, all on Nebraska football except one, a brief history of Husker basketball. He previously wrote for the Lincoln Journal and Star and Huskers Illustrated. He enjoys music, from the Grateful Dead and Jack Johnson to Van Morrison, Bob Wills, Glenn Miller and pretty much anyone else.