Baseball coach Steve Jaksa secures 500th career victory
Steve Jaksa joined the Central Michigan baseball team as the pitching coach in 1999, was promoted to head coach in 2003 and now has 500 careers wins.
He is an unequivocal illustration of the popular saying: "Time flies when you're having fun."
Jaksa is No. 2 in CMU history behind Dean Kreiner, who won 516 games as the head coach from 1985-98.
"It's hard to think my name even belongs in that group," Jaksa said. "Even if I do get to 516, Dean is still going to be my guy. He was a hell of a coach.
"I want to keep winning. Wherever it takes me, it takes me."
Win No. 500 came in a game against Miami (Ohio) on the road. IT gave the Chippewas a 13-9 record in the Mid-American Conference and set the team in a tie for third place in the conference.
With the Chippewas trailing 2-0 the sixth inning, outfielder Daniel Robinson blasted a two-run shot and Zach Heeke delivered an RBI single to take a one-run edge.
"It's unbelievable," Jaksa said with a smile on his face. "That group, what a resilient damn group that is. The 500 means I've had a plethora of players in front of me do a hell of a job playing the game of baseball with a pride and tradition of the Chippewa way, which is the family atmosphere we develop."
Robinson's home run was his fourth of the season and his second in the last four games.
Against the second hitter he faced, starting pitcher Pat Leatherman was lost to an injury. Jordan Patty, Cameron Brown and Jack Collins stepped up in relief to keep the Chippewas alive.
“It’s been the next man in, it’s been a roller-coaster that way a little bit, we just found a way to patch it together,” Jaksa said. “Patty gave in and gave us what he could, and Cam Brown, he came in – first time he’s pitched since he hurt his ankle and he did a heck of a job. Both of those guys just gave us everything they had. (Collins) just did a hell of a job just finishing that thing out.
“So proud of the resilience. We’re not done yet, but it was a really good come-from-behind win.”
CMU ended the game with a 6-2 win in game one of a three-game series against the RedHawks at McKie Field. The series continues on May 12 at 4:05 p.m. and finishes on May 13 at 1:05 p.m.
Now that No. 500 is out of the way, Jaksa is focused on No. 501, for now.
"I hope the second 500 comes a lot quicker," Jaksa joked. "Let's just get 501 tomorrow."