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Bonsky Heating and Cooling Athlete of the Week: Field baseball’s Caleb Gartner

Bonsky Heating and Cooling Athlete of the Week: Field baseball’s Caleb Gartner


Shannon Eldreth/Special Portage Sports

By Tom Nader

Publisher and Editor


Most see senior Caleb Gartner as the 6-foot-2 lefty ace on the mound for the Field Falcons.

Those that look closer, though, don’t just see a pitcher, they see an artist.

It was not always that way, though.

As a sophomore, Gartner struggled with pitch location consistency, especially when he fell behind in counts.

Unhappy with it, the Falcons’ ace committed himself to be better and by his junior season, the results began to shift.

He struck out 57 against just eight walks and posted a 1.38 ERA during the 2022 season.

To do it, Gartner immersed himself in the details that only a true artist could see, appreciate and perfect.

“I love the little things,” Gartner said. “Stepping off the mound, long pauses, making the hitter wait on me instead of me waiting on him. It’s really an art and if you come out to the mound thinking you’re anything less than the best player on the field, you’re already mentally defeated.”

The approach has served Gartner well.

Having four plus-pitches plays a role, too.

First, his four-seam fastball.

“I get a ton of arm-side run on and a little rise to it,” Gartner says. I use it a lot to get ahead and stay in control.”

Next, is th two-seam fastball, which acts more like a sinker.

“It runs arm-side also, but has more vertical drop to it than my four-seam.”

Third, Gartner has his circle-change.

“It runs equally arm0-side as it drops vertical. I love this pitch more than anything,” Gartner said.

The artist’s box still has more, including Gartner’s curveball.

“If I need it for a strike, I can make it loopy and break it off backdoor for a strike,” Gartner said. “If I want to induce a swing, I’ll snap it firm under their belts and bury it back-foot.”

Gartner, who was voted a team captain this season, has used the collection of pitches to earn a 5-1 record, with 36 strikeouts and an .977 ERA.

“Caleb’s mental side of pitching is definitely one of his strengths,” Field baseball coach Joe Peterson said. “His ability to take a deep breathe and refocus has completely changed him from his younger years.”

Gartner’s transformation has also been aided by assistant coach Keith Bowers.

Gartner credits Bowers for helping him understand how to attack hitters.

“If a hitter is a threat, then I pound fastball for a strike the first time through the lineup to get ahead. Depending onion the hitter is stepping out or crowding the plate, I will work him inside or outside,” Gartner said. “However, most of the time, I live outside and low. If it’s someone that is a real threat to swing it, I’ll use a changeup and curveball to keep them off of their timing — and a firm fastball to keep them honest and mix it up. Once I get ahead, I hate wasting pitches, so I try to induce an out or strike them out in three pitches or less.”

The artist and his canvas.

A pitcher ready to create his next colorful masterpiece.

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