First-year Joey Urban takes his batting stance against Northwestern on March 19. Photo by Lauren Gdowski.
JAKE KAUFMAN | SPORTS REPORTER | firstname.lastname@example.org
Despite a 7-20 start and an overall collective offense struggle, the Butler baseball team has found an impressive combination of production and leadership in first-year infielder Joey Urban.
Urban leads the team in nearly every offensive category including batting average (.271), total hits (29), home runs (4), runs-batted-in (17) and runs scored (17). He was named the BIG EAST Player of the Week in late February after batting .438 (7-16) while hitting two home runs and batting in six runs over his first four collegiate games against Fairleigh Dickinson.
However, much more stands out about Urban than just the raw production. Head coach Blake Beemer sees a sense of maturity in Urban which allows him to remain calm under pressure, something that is not seen very often in first-year athletes.
“I love that he does not carry at-bats over,” Beemer said. “If he has a bad at-bat early on, he does not let it affect him or his at-bats later on which is a real sign of a mature hitter.”
Senior pitcher Lukas Galdoni notices Urban’s ability to keep the game as simple as can be.
“Honestly, he just goes out there and hits and does not overthink it,” Galdoni said. “He does not second guess himself and a big thing that our team has done is try and follow his lead.”
Since the mental game is a significant aspect of baseball, a player’s attitude plays a huge role in their production. When asked about how he balances the varying emotions of a game, Urban acknowledged the up-and-down nature of the sport.
“When you’re in a good game, you have positive vibes, some great thoughts, you don’t have a bad thought in your mind,” Urban said. “But when everything goes downhill, I think you can start thinking of the worst things that can happen. You start to think you don’t want the ball to hit you.”
It is not just his offense that has impressed either. Urban has maintained a perfect fielding percentage even though he has had to learn multiple different positions during the season. Although he came to Butler as a third baseman, Urban has spent almost the entirety of the season in the outfield and has been able to manage both that and his continued success at the plate.
Urban has also handled switching spots in the batting order. He started the season hitting in the nine-spot, but after his continued success, Beemer decided to make him the team’s leadoff hitter.
Galdoni, who has also hit all around the order throughout his college career, notes the different changes a hitter has to make when switching spots in the lineup.
“It’s just a different type of mentality you have to have,” Galdoni said. “When you are batting third, you are looking to drive the ball and score runs, but batting first you are looking to get on base and just try to get the offense going.”
Urban agreed with Galdoni on the adjustments he has made as a lead-off hitter, especially since he batted third in high school.
“Batting first is definitely a complete mind change for me, because I never really had to bat first since I’ve been a young kid,” Urban said. “When I batted third in high school, we at least had someone on base. Now that I’m the first batter I want to get on base more and try to work more walks which is something I am not as used to.”
Urban grew up in Jupiter, Florida, and played baseball in one of the more competitive states in the country. He thinks that being able to play competitive baseball year-round against high-level talent in high school has helped make his transition to the collegiate level smoother.
“I grew up with a lot of talented kids,” Urban said. “A lot of kids threw hard, that hit well and a lot of them ended up going to Power-5 schools, so that really helped get me ready for college.”
Upon graduating high school, Urban initially committed to play baseball at a junior college in Florida before being recruited to Butler. Soon after he changed his commitment, head coach Dave Schrage announced his retirement after six seasons at Butler and 38 seasons total in baseball. Urban thought about possibly transferring after the news but was eventually convinced to stay by Beemer and the rest of the coaching staff — a decision he is very glad that he made.
“It was very unexpected initially for me and the other commits,” Urban said. “But I am happy that I stayed because I think that our coaching staff is great.”
Urban and the Bulldogs have faced stiff competition early on in the season, playing a two-game series against No. 1 ranked LSU in early March. Although Butler lost both games, Urban thinks it was a great learning experience going against the best team in the country.
“It shows who we really are and what we really need to work on,” Urban said. “If we play a weak team and beat them by like 10 runs it does not show us what we need to work on, but playing a team like LSU helps show us what we need to be.”
Even with Butler not seeing as much success on the field or in the win column as they would have liked, they have discovered a rising star in Urban.
“He’s going to be a big stepping stone for this program and [the team will be] building around him in the next few years,” Galdoni said.”