Janesville Parker graduate a fixture in Warhawks’ outfield
WHITEWATER Matt Beyer wasn’t sure if he would play much when he joined the UW-Whitewater baseball team out of Janesville Parker High School three years ago.
Now, he’s proven that he can.
Beyer will be in left field when the Warhawks open NCAA Division III World Series play Friday afternoon at Fox Cities Stadium in Grand Chute.
The 6-foot-1, 185-pound junior has played 130 games in three seasons with the Warhawks. Beyer started 37 games in the outfield as a freshman, which was a pleasant surprise. He was a first-team All-Big Eight Conference his senior year at Parker, but coming to the strong Warhawk program was a bit daunting.
For one thing, there’s the “freshman thing.”
“When you first get here, all the other guys are all older than you,” Beyer said Tuesday.
Plus, the Warhawks were coming off a third-place finish in the NCAA Division III World Series.
Beyer didn’t let the intimidation factors affect him for long. He batted .300 as a freshman, with eight homers and 26 RBIs. He had a .523 slugging percentage.
His success carried over to his sophomore season. He hit .308 with six doubles, four triples, seven homers and 42 RBIs. He had a .552 slugging percentage and started 41 of the 47 games he played.
Beyer’s statistics hit a bump this season. A recent surge has lifted his season average to .293. He has started 36 of the 44 games in which he has played for the 36-11 Warhawks.
He has 39 hits and has scored 37 runs. He has nine doubles, a triple, three homers and 26 RBIs.
Beyer said his struggles began right from the start of the season. He was hitting below .240 with no homers as late as April 20, but has been a tear since then.
In the NCAA Division III regional at James Miller Stadium last week, Beyer earned a spot on the all-tournament team. In the Warhawks’ opening win, Beyer’s sacrifice fly in the sixth inning proved to be the winning run in a 3-2 victory over St. Thomas.
In Whitewater’s second game, Beyer went 4-for-5 and scored the winning run after tripling in the 10th inning of a 7-6 victory over Hamline.
In the third game, Beyer singled in the winning in the sixth inning in a 2-1 victory over UW-Stevens Point. He finished the tournament with a .426 average, and a brighter outlook on his future.
“I think it’s just confidence,” Beyer said.
Beyer’s strength is his speed. He has stolen 11 bases in 12 attempts, which hikes his career stolen-base total to 25.
Playing with center fielder Dylan Friend and right fielder Dan Putnam, the Warhawks boast of an outfield can run down just about any fly ball that stays in the park.
Beyer, the son of Scott and Tasha, enjoys playing just 20 minutes from his hometown. A group of family members plans to attend the Warhawks’ World Series games.
“Plus a lot of my high school coaches get to follow me,” he said.
Along with hometown fans who will watch the Warhawks’ World Series games with an added interest.