By Sam Wilson
Kyle Warner wants to be able to pitch deep into games to help lead his Canisius College baseball team as a senior next spring.
And by pitching late in his final few starts as an Oiler, the third-year lefty has given Olean a reliable arm in its second-half push for the New York Collegiate Baseball League playoffs. Warner is coming off back-to-back seven-inning efforts, both wins, and has won four of his last five starts.
The Springville native held Genesee without an earned run in seven innings on Saturday in Houghton, allowing just three hits.
“(Saturday), I felt amazing,” Warner said after a recent home game at Bradner Stadium. “It was one of my best starts of the summer for sure. I’m trying to go back to Canisius this year and hopefully get a starting job and just go from there.”
Warner (4-0) holds a 4.11 earned-run-average in six starts with the Oilers, pitching 35 innings. He’s displayed excellent control, striking out 37 batters to just four walks this season. In his last two starts, he has a combined 17 strikeouts and two free passes. Warner said he’s worked to improve his endurance this summer after appearing in 17 games his junior season at Canisius, all in relief for 28.1 innings at a 4.76 ERA.
“Definitely being able to go deeper into games,” he said. “That’s what I was told to do this summer after leaving Canisius and coming here. They told me to work on (my) endurance, being able to go longer into games and I’ve worked on all my pitches, throwing all of them for strikes. It’s worked out well.”
In the final week of the regular season after three summers in Olean, the senior-to-be knows the end is near, regardless of the team’s postseason fate.
“IT’S GETTING close to the end for summer ball and for my whole career, almost,” he said. “Maybe not, you never know. But this has been, probably, one of my best summers ever. I’m pitching as best as I can and (I’ve) been doing really well.”
A physical education major, the son of Joseph and Debra is excited to return to college for his senior season and embrace a leadership role with the Griffins.
“It’s going to be a lot,” Warner said. “It’s definitely going to be a heart-felt year. I’m trying to be one of those guys that can really lead that team up there and hopefully win some games.”
After his first two seasons with the Oilers, Warner knew he wanted to return.
“The guys are great here, the coaches are great, Olean is honestly like a second home to me,” he said. “I love it here so much.”
Around the Oilers, he enjoys working with pitchers from other schools and taking advantage of the team’s training facilities.
“Especially here, you get a couple guys that have pitched at a higher level (of) development,” he said. “You get a top-notch weight room here and everything. You get better every day. So that’s really about all you can ask for.”
After Tuesday night, the Oilers (16-17-3) sit third in the Western Division, a half-game (one point) behind of Mansfield (17-17-2), but three full games ahead of Genesee for the final playoff spot. Olean visits Niagara today to begin a season-ending stretch of six games in five days.
“I know we started out not winning a lot of games,” Warner said. “We’ve picked it up lately. The goal for the team definitely is to win this whole thing and I know we can do it. We have a team that has a lot of potential to do that.”
(Springville Times sports editor Sam Wilson may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)