Butler grad Rossmiller excelling on, off field for Thiel
Well-rounded and intelligent enough to be a college triple-major, Butler's Nick Rossmiller didn't let a suggestion to tinker with his pitching mechanics last summer go over his head.
The results have been, on at least one occasion, perfect.
Rossmiller, a 6-foot-3 right-hander, altered his delivery slightly between his junior and senior seasons at Thiel College. His ERA has dropped by almost two runs, and his batting average against has decreased by about 60 points.
Better yet, Rossmiller has thrown a one-hitter and perfect game among his first six starts.
“I never used to go over the top of my head,” Rossmiller said of his wind-up delivery, which was altered by assistant coach Brian Warning.
“Now, I bring it over the top of my head, and it's meant better timing. I get my windup in better position and therefore get better command of my pitches.”
Rossmiller was Thiel's most consistent pitcher through the first six weeks of the season. He was 6-3 with a 2.52 ERA and .221 opponents' batting average in nine starts.
He had allowed 53 hits and 12 walks with 43 strikeouts in 64 1⁄3 innings.
“He's been very consistent from the start of the season at the beginning of March until now,” Tomcats coach Joe Schaly said.
“Every time he steps on the mound, he's thrown the ball well, and he gives us a chance to win each time he goes out there. That's what you ask for in a starter.”
On at least two occasions, Rossmiller did much more than that. On April 2, Rossmiller limited Bethany to one hit — a single in the second inning.
That was his third shutout of the season, and he also went 8 2⁄3 innings in a March 22 win against Thomas More.
It was the start prior to that one, though, that neither Rossmiller nor anyone on the field that day will forget. Rossmiller pitched a perfect game at home March 15 against Hiram.
“It was a special day,” said Schaly, who is in his 14th season with Thiel and has been a college coach for more than two decades.
“I'd never witnessed a perfect game. I'd seen no-hitters on both side of them but never a perfect game. It was only the 16th perfect game in Division III baseball — it doesn't happen very often, so it was special to watch.”
Schaly had planned to pull Rossmiller early to save his arm and give other pitchers some work, particularly when the Tomcats took a big early lead (they eventually would win, 14-0).
“From the fifth inning on, I told the guys who were supposed to pitch, ‘Guys, he's got a perfect game going — I can't take him out,'” Schaly said.
“As soon as he allows a base hit, we'll make a pitching change. But he just kept getting outs. He wouldn't give up any hits.
“I guess that's one way to keep yourself in the game. It was fun.”
As per customary baseball etiquette, teammates began scattering in the dugout between innings when Rossmiller came to the bench in an effort to avoid talking to him — fellow senior pitcher Cody Northcott a notable exception.
“He pulled every no-no in the book for when a no-hitter or perfect game is going on,” Rossmiller said with a laugh.
“He's kind of a loud guy; he doesn't really fall into the category of not saying anything.
“But it was an incredible game I'll never forget.”
Rossmiller, who's majoring in business management, marketing and advertising, spent his first two college years at Butler County Community College.
He has a familiar teammate this season in second baseman Eric King, who also went to Butler.
The two have quite the batting race going to finish with the second-best average on the team behind senior outfielder Eric Steininger.
Rossmiller was hitting .382 heading into a game Thursday, and King was at .376 for the Tomcats, who entered the weekend 17-12 overall and 10-4 in Presidents' Athletic Conference play.
“It'd be nice to host PACs and be the No. 1 seed,” Rossmiller said.
“That'd be the ultimate. I know everyone on the team wants to win the PAC and go to Regionals. That'd be awesome for Thiel because it's been (a few years).”
Chris Adamski is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.