SHEPARDSTOWN, W.Va. - Right from the start, you knew that Chris Baker was going to have a solid baseball career - he was anything but average when playing Little League for McClure and Decatur Township.
Baker's Little League days are long gone. He is wrapping up his career as a hurler for Concord University in southern West Virginia, an NCAA Division II school.
Baker's team is one of the top teams in the Mountain East Conference with a 15-7 record and is 18-10 overall as of April 3.
At present, the right hander has 0-1 record with a 7.16 ERA with three saves. He has appeared in 10 games and has walked six and struck out 12.
Last year, Baker had a very good year on the mound as he went 8-2 with 3.33 ERA. He picked up two saves, struck out 28 and walked just nine in 48.2 innings of work. He appeared in 19 games and had one start.
"Last year we made it to the conference and regional tournaments and we have high hopes of getting past regionals this year and going to the Division II World Series," Baker said in between games of a double header with Shepard University.
Before Baker started pitching for Concord, he had an extensive resume.
He played one year (2007) in the Mifflin County Babe Ruth League. As a 15-year-old, he helped Belltown to a fourth place finish and then as an All-Star played a key role in leading Mifflin County to a state title.
Baker hit .333 and had a 2-1 record with 22 strikeouts and 14 walks. In his last at bat as a Babe Ruth player, in the Mid-Atlantic Regional, he smashed a two-run homer in a 16-6 loss to Southern New Jersey.
He went on to play for Midd-West high school and then Frederick Community College in Maryland.
In high school, he was a starter as opposed to being a closer now.
"You have to have a certain mentality coming out of the bullpen," Baker said. "Mariano Rivera was my idle and you have to challenge the hitters to see how far they can hit it."
Working year round has become part of Baker's life. His coaches really appreciate how the McClure native has become a leader for the Concord staff.
"He has been a great guy," said Devin Smith, an assistant coach for Concord. "He has shown great leadership qualties. Right from the start, he had great maturity coming out of junior college. He pushes our younger players as he sets a great example for everybody on the team."
One thing Baker has worked on during his college career has been changing his style of pitching.
"My best pitch now is a cutter," Baker said, "I try to mix it with my fast ball. I also have been working on a change-up."
Baker also had to make an adjustment coming out of Frerderick.
"There is definitely more competition up here," Baker said, "The lineups are tougher from one to nine. The speed of the game is a lot faster, by that I mean the tempo of the game."
Concord is located in Athens, W.V., which is located in the southeast corner of West Virginia in the Allegheny Mountains.
Baker is a long way from home, but he is leaving his mark in Concord.