UNO’s ace pitcher takes talent to CCBL

By Ben Bukacek

They call him Big Joe. And with the big numbers he is putting up in the Cape Cod Baseball League, they have every right to.

Currently, U. Nebraska-Omaha sophomore pitcher Joe Holtmeyer is sporting a 1-3 record with a 3.18 ERA and 37 strikeouts.

His strikeouts put him at the top of the league in that statistic for this summer.

“I want to have the most strike outs in the league and have a very low ERA by the time the league is over,” Holtmeyer said.

It looks as if he is doing just that. This summer the Division II All-American joined the Harwich Mariners of the Cape Cod Baseball League. The league is one of the most prominent summer baseball leagues for college players.

In 2004, one out of every 7 players in the CCBL went on to play Major League Baseball. MLB stars such as San Francisco’s Tim Lincecum and Tampa Bay’s first baseman Carlos Pena are among the Mariner’s former players.

Holtmeyer is the only Division II player on the Harwich Mariners roster. He enjoys coming from a smaller school.

“It makes it fun to do well against bigger school guys when they’ve never heard of my school,” he said.

UNO baseball coach, Bob Herold, seems to have only good things to say about his star pitcher. Herold, who recommended Holtmeyer should be in a league where he could be successful, was confident in Holtmeyer’s abilities to play in the CCBL.

Herold has enjoyed being able to watch Holtmeyer progress as a player this summer, and that is exactly what Joe has been doing. His best starts with the Harwich Mariners have come toward the end of the season.

As for the spring, Coach Herold will be putting Holtmeyer on the mound as his ace pitcher, looking for momentum in the first game of a series.

It seems that both player and coach are looking forward to continued success once the season rolls around in 2011.

“He came to help [UNO], and he has, and we will continue to help him,” said Herald.

Playing in such a prestigious league with its high recognition, players are more likely to be drafted into MLB.

That is one thing Holtmeyer is not too worried about right now.

“I really don’t worry about being drafted right now,” he said. “I’m having fun playing college baseball and worrying about getting drafted would take the fun out of playing ball.”

Most of all, Holtmeyer just likes the fact that he is stacking himself up against some of the best players from major Division I schools. Though he is focused on the here and now, his work ethic may lead to future professional success.

Holtmeyer spends most of his time in New England training day in and day out. He always gets a three-mile run in before he shows up to the field, and follows that with long sprints and agility exercises to further improve.

While baseball is the focus of his time in New England, the Creighton Prep alum also finds time to enjoy the New England culture and scenery, rising each morning to a picturesque view of the ocean.

Given he’s a player, Holtmeyer still relishes the opportunity to be a fan, talking baseball with anyone at anytime, and watching the Red Sox play on every TV in restaurants.

Though this summer has been an experience he will never forget, Holtmeyer’s heart will always be in Omaha.

“I love Omaha. After ball is over, I will be getting home as quick as I can,” Holtmeyer said.

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