By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – When a baseball team has a great closer it usually leads to the whole squad having more confidence. Everyone knows that if they can just get the game to the 9th inning with a lead – the final three outs are a given.
That is definitely the case at La Salle where they are enjoying the fruits of having the most effective closer in program history. Junior righthander Pat Christensen recently set the La Salle career record for saves. He has slammed the door on 31 Explorer wins over his three-year career and that number is also tops all-time in the Big 5 and the Atlantic 10.
“It means a lot to me,” Christensen says about the record. “But the main focus on this season is just trying to win the A-10. I’m sure looking back on it, I’ll be very happy with myself and it will be a proud moment for me. But for now I’m focused more on the season itself than the actual record. I am proud of myself that I’ve done it, but more looking forward to what I can do with this season.”
Needless to say, having an arm like Christensen at the back of the bullpen makes life a lot easier for Explorers head coach Mike Lake.
“Because you know when he’s coming in, he’s shutting the door. He wants to come into every single game. He wants the ball all the time.”
Christensen has earned seven of his saves this season. Overall in 16 appearances, he is 3-1 with a 3.27 ERA. In 22 innings of work, he has struck out 35 batters and walked . . . . two. The La Jolla, California native says he tries to keep it pretty simple on the mound.
“Mainly relying on my two-seam (fastball), that’s what I live and die by. Developed a little bit better slider over the summer and pretty much just live fastball-slider and just try to get the two-seam into righties.”
The 6’4″ Christensen also comes from a three-quarters arm angle which Lake says makes him even harder to hit.
“It gives him a lot of run on the ball. His ball tails six inches to a foot. And that’s what makes it tough sometimes because he’ll start the ball six inches off the plate and (it) comes back across the black part of the plate and it makes it tough for the hitters.”
Listen to KYW’s Matt Leon’s interview with Pat Christensen:
Being a closer is, by definition, an adrenaline rush. When does it reach its peak for Christensen?
“It’s probably the last pitch. The very last pitch – especially when you end it on a strikeout – is probably the best feeling in the world. You get that last guy out, you go shake your catcher’s hand, go shake everyone’s hand, you’re the last guy on the field and you’re the guy that got the job done. So it’s always nice.”
15-13 La Salle is on the road for a three game series with UMass starting Thursday.