IOWA CITY — Jacob Bockenstedt’s offseason includes a lot of throwing and exercises with bands to strengthen his arm.
The Cedar Rapids Washington junior’s work during the fall, winter and around his track season has paid dividends this summer.
Bockenstedt has produced a strong start to the season, owning a 3-1 record. His chance for another victory was postponed when rain suspended the first game of a Mississippi Valley Conference Valley Division doubleheader against Iowa City High on Wednesday at Mercer Park.
Bockenstedt threw five innings of shutout ball in a pitchers’ duel against City High senior Brett McCleary. Bockenstedt allowed just one hit when the contest was halted with the Warriors up, 1-0.
“I’ve been throwing pretty well,” said Bockenstedt, helping Washington to a 13-7 mark. “The team around me has been getting it done as well, helping me out getting runs on the board. It’s been a lot of fun.”
Bockenstedt entered the game with four starts and a 1.52 earned-run average in 23 innings pitched. Washington Coach Scott Brune recognized his maturation from a year ago.
“He gets us six or seven innings every time out,” Brune said. “He’ll keep the score down and pitch to contact and keep us in games.”
Last season, Bockenstedt missed two weeks to injury. He came back to lead the Warriors with eight starts and 35 strikeouts, posting a 3-5 record. His time off the field resulted in a greater appreciation for taking the mound and preparing his arm for the season.
“All is fine now,” Bockenstedt said. “Everything feels good.”
Bockenstedt routinely threw between 85 and 87 miles per hour, according to radar gun readings displayed on the Mercer Park scoreboard. He has always been more of a hard thrower but has worked on increasing his pitch speed.
“Over the past couple of years, I’ve been making strides to be one of the throwers higher in velocity,” Bockenstedt said. “It’s been easier to strike people out I guess, is what it comes down to, because they can’t catch up to it. It throws them off big time.”
With four more strikeouts against the Little Hawks, Bockenstedt has 19 strikeouts and owns almost a 4-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
“Obviously, his velocity helps out,” Brune said. “He’s developed a nice slider and he can get some secondary stuff over for strikes, which makes him tough to hit.”
Bockenstedt was able to pitch in rain that became steady after the second inning. He handled the elements and worked ahead in the count. Brune said he has a strong attitude and a good mental approach.
“He’s always out there attacking hitters,” Brune said. “He never tries to nibble on the corners. He goes right at guys and pitches to contact. He makes guys swing the bat.”
The doubleheader will resume next Thursday, beginning with one out in the top of the sixth with a complete second game to follow.
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