Two years ago, Eric McMullen was the top pitcher on the Hauser baseball team.
McMullen moved to Columbus last year, but didn’t see a lot of action as a junior at Columbus East. But now in his senior year, McMullen is leading the Olympians with a .429 batting average and is third on the team with 10 RBIs.
“Everybody has their role, and everybody’s picked it up,” McMullen said. “It’s just been a team effort — pitching, hitting, making plays behind the pitchers.”
Last year, McMullen’s role was pitching. He threw the fourth-most innings for East and went 2-1 with a 4.27 ERA.
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This year, the role has switched. After batting only five times last season, he’s thrown only 8 2/3 innings this spring and is 1-1 with a 1.62 ERA for a pitching-rich team that is 10-5 going into today’s game against crosstown rival Columbus North.
“Last year, we didn’t necessarily have a position for him, so he didn’t get a whole lot of time in the field, but he pitched a good amount for us,” East coach Jon Gratz said. “He just showed early on (this year) that we had to keep his bat in the order, and he did a nice job there at second base and has just been playing really well ever since the start of the season.”
Gratz said he knew McMullen was a solid player when he arrived at East last year. The key was just finding a place for him to see what he could do, and he’s taken advantage of that this year.
But McMullen, who had been used to either pitching or playing in the field every day, was behind some pretty talented players last season, including All-State second baseman Takahiro Yamada.
“It was a big change, something that I wasn’t really used to,” McMullen said. “I just had to hang in there and control what I can control and wait until the opportunity was provided.”
McMullen knows his competitive baseball career is nearing an end. He is planning to attend Indiana University to major in business.
Before that, though, he’s hoping to help lead the Olympians to a Hoosier Hills Conference championship next week and to their first sectional title since 1999.
“I think we’d all like to just win a sectional and go from there,” McMullen said. “I think if we all do what we’re capable of, we can go a long way in the postseason.”