LEXINGTON — Former Franklin County High and current Ball State University freshman pitcher David Current didn’t lose sight of the big picture Sunday, despite a rough weekend of baseball against the 22nd-ranked Kentucky Wildcats.
Ball State’s Cardinals fell to 10-5 in losing two out of three to 13-3 UK, including 24-1 and 26-3 decisions over the weekend.
Current didn’t escape Kentucky’s pinball wizard offense, throwing three innings of relief Saturday, surrendering five hits, four earned runs, with three walks and two strikeouts.
That pushed Current’s earned run average to 6.75 on the season, over 5.1 innings, though it should be noted that Saturday marked the first runs surrendered by Current at the college level.
“There’s always room for improvement, obviously,” said Current, a right-hander. “I always want to make strides to get better, because I want to get higher up in the rotation.”
That may take into Current’s sophomore season because Ball State has a pitching staff dominated by upper classmen. Eight of the Cardinals’ 15 pitchers are seniors.
“I’m pitching about as much as I thought I would,” Current said. “We have a lot of older guys, and a lot of them are going to graduate.”
The highlight, loosely speaking, of Current’s weekend was a chance to face former high school teammate Zach Arnold, a sophomore catcher at UK.
Arnold batted twice Saturday, with Current on the mound, grounding out once and then hitting a hard single that got by the BSU left fielder, allowing Arnold to circle the bases and score.
“It was funny because people were tweeting me, saying, ‘Oh, in-the-parker (home run), in-the-parker,’” Arnold said. “And I was like, ‘You WEREN’T there. It was not an in-the-parker.’ It was just a single with an error, and then I came around to score.”
Whatever the ruling, both Current and Arnold said it was “cool” to face each other as former prep teammates and current college players ... Division I college players, at that.
“It was real weird,” Current said of facing Arnold. “I played with him for three years. I want to say I know his tendencies, but he hit that one pretty hard off me, obviously.
“I was really looking forward to coming back,” added Current, whose Cardinals are based in Muncie, Ind., some four hours away. “I rarely get a chance to come home. So being able to play here was a fun experience, though I’m a pretty high strung guy, so there were some nerves and some pressure with friends and family here.”
It’s remarkable that Current is pitching at Ball State, in fact, given that he suffered a labrum injury in his pitching shoulder in the fall of his senior year at Franklin County. He pitched sparingly for the Flyers last spring.
“I had committed to Ball State about a week before my injury, so it kind of worked out well,” Current said. “I always thought I was going to play outfield in college, but hitting just wasn’t my forte. And I’m not the fastest guy, either.”
While Current remains a ways from any kind of crossroads in his college baseball career, he and Ball State head coach Rich Maloney said Current is on the right track.
“I think it’s his ability to command his pitches,” Maloney said when asked how he wants to see Current improve. “I think he shows signs with his pitches. He throws a nice, live fastball sometimes, and he throws a nice breaking ball. But his consistency level, like most freshmen, is not as good as it needs to be.”
Asked where he sees his pitching a year from now, Current laughed and replied: “I’m definitely not going to walk as many people, that’s for sure. I need to hit spots with both my fastball and my slider. If you can’t establish your fastball, you’re not going to get your off speed over the plate.”
“He’ll get it,” Arnold said of Current. “He’s throwing the ball well, and he’s just a freshman. Everybody goes through that freshman barrier that you have to get over. He’s going to be a really effective pitcher for Ball State.”
Maloney said Current is a good pupil.
“He’s very coachable,” Maloney said. “He’s a great kid from a great family. He works hard. He’s got some competitive (fire). He was not happy yesterday (Saturday) with his performance. It bothered him. And I think if it bothers you enough, and you have that drive, then you have a chance.”
Current’s Cardinals make only one more in-state visit this season — an April 2 date at Northern Kentucky University, with a 3 p.m. start time.