December 21, 2014

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Two-sport Midview star to pitch for University of Kentucky

EATON TWP. — Eric Lauer isn’t your average football player. Not many All-Ohio selections are.

Lauer

Still, the Midview junior’s dad, Rick, always had a feeling Eric was bound for glory in another sport.

“He knew being left-handed and being tall and lanky is something special in baseball, so he always pushed it a little more,” Lauer said.

What do you know? Sometimes Dad really does know best. Monday, Lauer orally committed to play baseball at the University of Kentucky, the No. 2-ranked Division I team in the country.

“My dad’s thing now is I’m a baseball player who likes to play football,” said Lauer, a third-team all-state receiver last season.

Rest easy, Middies fans, Lauer said he plans to play football again next season.

“That’s one of the main questions everybody keeps asking me,” he said.

Excuse the Kentucky coaches if they were impressed more with Lauer’s ability to fire a baseball down the middle than they were with his ability to go over it to make a catch.

And Lauer, who stands 6-foot-3, can certainly bring the heat on the mound. He consistently hits 90-91 miles per hour with his fastball, a big factor behind the impressive statistics he’s rung up this season as Midview’s No. 1 pitcher: 5-1 record, 0.92 ERA and 93 strikeouts in 44⅓ innings.

He opened the season striking out 16 and walking none in a 5-0 win over Berea in which he had a perfect game through six innings. His lone loss? A 1-0 decision against Avon in which he allowed just three hits and struck out 13.

But don’t think Lauer gets by on just his overpowering fastball.

“He mixes that up great with a nice change-up and a curveball and he spots both of them,” Midview coach John Justice said.

Lauer, who has a 9-3 career record with 161 strikeouts at Midview, says his two- and four-seam fastballs are his best pitches, but his out pitch is a slurve — a slider and curve hybrid.

He also enjoys the mental aspects of the position.

“I like being able to control a game,” he said. “I like the idea of being in control of things. Everything starts with me. I like the idea of that. That little sense of control. Until you throw the ball — then you’re out of control.”

Lauer, who is expected to start today’s district semifinal against Westlake at the Pipe Yard in Lorain, is more than just an arm to the Middies. He’s also a starting first baseman and the team leader in home runs with five and stolen bases with 11.

While Kentucky wants him as a pitcher first and foremost, Lauer said he was told he might be able to play other positions, as well.

“They said they’ll give me a chance at first,” he said. “To prove myself.”

Lauer the baseball player is fine with that.

“That would be cool,” he said. “I don’t like sitting on the bench all that much.”

As for why Kentucky, Lauer said he liked that it’s not too far from home and because the Wildcats play in the Southeastern Conference, one of the nation’s top leagues.

“They just sold me,” said Lauer, who also had offers from Ohio State, Kent State, Georgia Tech and Louisville. “They seemed like really nice people. I’m thinking they can help me move on past college, hopefully.”

Of course, even though Lauer’s two sports are baseball and football, he’s looking forward to life in basketball-crazy Lexington. Heck, he might even take in a game or two when the NCAA champs are playing at Rupp Arena.

“That will be a good time, for sure,” he said.

Contact Kevin Aprile at 329-7135 or ctsports@chroniclet.com.