John Dodderidge, Sports Information Director
KANSAS CITY – The Rockhurst baseball team was just coming off a doubleheader sweep of Upper Iowa on March 11 in Parkville, Missouri. Less than 24 hours later, the Hawks’ promising season came to a sudden ending after the NCAA announced it was cancelling all of its Spring Championship events due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Jack Eisenbarger did not believe it when he first heard the news. The senior pitcher from St. Louis was looking forward to ending his college career on a high note after the Hawks got off to a 10-7 start.
“We had a great team this year and had just come off two great wins against Upper Iowa. I was sad that my teammates and my senior year ended like that. When I began to understand that a fifth year would be a possibility, I was pumped to receive the opportunity to improve myself on the mound and in the weight room for a final year of my Rockhurst baseball career.”
Eisenbarger is planning on coming back next year to finish his senior season with the Hawks while pursuing a Master’s in Business Administration at Rockhurst. He will graduate this spring with a degree in Mechanical Engineering.
Playing baseball while maintaining a GPA over 3.80 has been challenging for Eisenbarger. “While engineering is a demanding major, I have been able to maintain a high GPA by prioritizing my time and focus off the field. A good number of my weekend trips for baseball have included many hours studying in the hotel between games.”
The left-hander from Vianney High School won two of his four starts in 2020. He held Minnesota Crookston to two runs in seven innings in a 7-2 win in Florida. He returned home to post a 4-2 victory over Missouri S&T, holding the Miners to four hits over six innings.
Eisenbarger was one of the top pitchers in the Great Lakes Valley Conference in his junior year. He ranked second in strikeouts (102) and eighth in ERA (3.52) in the GLVC.
His two best starts of the 2019 season earned Eisenbarger a pair of GLVC Pitcher of the Week honors. He threw the first no-hitter in school history against Bemidji State and shut out Missouri-St. Louis on one hit (a first-inning single).
In his four years at Rockhurst, he has struck out 189 hitters in 159.1 innings with nine wins, two saves and a 3.90 ERA in 32 games.
“My favorite memories were the team’s Florida trips my sophomore and senior year,” Eisenbarger said. “Throwing the no-hitter against Bemidji State and having 15 K’s against Maryville (last year) are also great memories.”
RU baseball coach Gary Burns had no idea what type of pitcher he was getting when Eisenbarger came to Rockhurst in the fall of 2016.
“Jack has added seven-to-eight miles per hour to his velocity (since his freshman year). That is due to his work and natural progression,” Burns said. “He is determined and very skilled. He pitched earlier for us because he had great command. He was more of a control pitcher who added more speed.”
Burns would rate Eisenbarger’s college career up to now as a success. But with another year at Rockhurst, he believes his ace pitcher could end his college days with a spectacular career.
“His changeup is his best pitch. He throws his fastball 87 mph, which helps his changeup. He throws a true curveball now and he improved his breaking ball from last year,” added Burns.
Eisenbarger’s summer baseball plans are still uncertain. He pitched with success in the Coastal Plain League last summer in Edenton, North Carolina, which is considered one of the top college summer leagues.