Thursday, April 3, 2014

Philly College Baseball: Pater's perseverance leads St. Joseph's

By SAMUEL BOTWINICK | Staff Writer
April 2, 2014, 7:30 p.m.
@avdbkr20samuel

Ryan Pater knows a thing or two about pain.

The Saint Joseph's junior center fielder has overcome a torn ACL and a horrific facial injury, all in an effort to keep his baseball career alive. 

"Two summers ago, I got hit in the face by a fastball," Pater said on Wednesday following Saint Joseph's 9-6 win over Villanova in the Liberty Bell Classic.  "I fractured five bones in my face, broke open three facial arteries, had to get blood transfusions, three surgeries.  It was a big deal."

Despite the severity of his injuries, Pater remained optimistic. 

"All last year I had to wear a mask," Pater said.  "I had to wear that to protect myself.  I came back for my teammates, and I love the game.  I wouldn't want to let myself down by quitting.  

"To come back from that, and then as soon as I came back, then bang, there goes my knee.  It was one of those cases where nature was kicking me while I was down."

Picture of Ryan Pater: Photo Credit: Greg Carroccio/Sideline Photos Aside from his tolerance for pain and perseverance, Pater is also a patient hitter at the plate. 

"I have a really good knowledge of the strike zone," Pater said.  "Usually I know if I strike out and whether the last pitch was a strike or a ball.  You barely ever see me arguing, but the one thing I can't stand is getting called out on strikes when I think the pitch was definitely out of the zone.  Sometimes I feel like I know the strike zone better than the umpire.  Sometimes it doesn't work in my favor.

"I was always kind of a scrappy ball player, kind of using the whole field to my advantage, and working long at-bats.  One of my roles on the team is to be that guy that can continue an inning for my team by working long at-bats.  The pitcher can have me down 0-2, and the next thing you know, it's 3-2, and then they have to throw me a pitch."

Working long at-bats certainly factors in to why the junior is second on the Hawks this season in walks with 12. He's also drove in 12 runs over 15 starts.

Coming back has been a worthwhile investment for Pater, who has enjoyed much success at the plate and patrolling center.  After being named to the Atlantic 10 All-Rookie Team in 2012 and leading the Hawks in stolen bases and ranking second on the team in on-base percentage, he felt it was important to bounce back this season, especially after the injuries he dealt with last year. 

Bounce back Pater certainly has.  He hit his first career home run this past Friday against St. Bonaventure.

"Generally, that home run was awesome," Pater said.  "To hit a home run here, that was extra special.  I haven't hit a home run here yet.  That was my first one.  That was actually the first time I played without wearing my knee brace.  I'm never putting that thing back on.

"Usually when I hit a ball, and I think it's gone, I generally always run it out anyway, because it never goes.  That time I hit it, and I really thought that it was gone, but I'd run it out anyway.  When I got around second, I was like, 'act like you've been here before.'  I turned and looked at the dugout.  They were all laughing at me, screaming out my name.  I just couldn't keep a straight face.  I had to break down in laughter."

Pater will be back in action when he and the Hawks travel to Richmond, Virginia to open a three-game series with VCU on Friday with first pitch set for 6:30 P.M.  

- The Philadelphia Baseball Review is the top baseball news blog in Philadelphia, providing news coverage and analysis of the 2014 Phillies and baseball in the Philadelphia-region.

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