Jake Tucker helps turn Elkhart Memorial baseball around

Manchester University-bound left-hander Jake Tucker is 9-1 for the resurgent Crimson Chargers. Memorial had 17 wins in 2014, equalling the total of all of 2012 and 2013.

Posted on May 30, 2014 at 7:09 a.m.

ELKHART — Jake Tucker knows the highs and lows of Elkhart Memorial High School baseball.

As a three-year varsity player, Tucker experienced the lows of a 7-24 season in 2013 and the heartache of 10-20 campaign in 2012.

Tucker has also had a big hand in the Crimson Chargers’ resurgence in 2014. Memorial tied NorthWood High School for the Northern Lakes Conference (NLC) title and opened the Class 4A Elkhart Sectional with a 5-0 win against Goshen.

Left-hander Tucker (9-1) pitched a three-hitter and helped Memorial move to 17-11-1 as it heads into a semifinal showdown at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 31, against Concord High School. The second semifinal feature Northridge High School against Warsaw High School with the sectional final slated for 6 p.m. Monday, June 2.

“It's just a great feeling to finally win some games,” said Tucker, one of just four seniors on the Chargers’ tournament roster. “We've got awesome team chemistry. Hopefully, we can take this thing far.”

Not only did Memorial tie for the NLC crown this spring – the team showed its mettle against some other strong squads.

“We played a lot of good teams from other conferences who are powerhouses, and we played them tough,” said Tucker. “It made us realize that we can play with the big boys this year.”

Tucker plays right field when he’s not pitching, but it is on the mound that the southpaw really shows his leadership.

“They look to me to go out there and throw strikes and get outs,” said Tucker, who shut down Goshen High School during the regular season. “I tried to keep (Goshen) off-balance, get more groundballs and keep my pitch count low. I think I was under 90.

”I didn't start out too well, but once we got some runs behind us we got a little more confident and started throwing more strikes in the second half of the game.”

While he only had three strikeouts, he induced the Redskins into nine outs of the fly-ball or pop-up variety.

Tucker, who was honorable mention all-NLC as a sophomore and seems bound for higher honors as a senior, was on the mound when Memorial coach Scott Rost picked up his milestone 200th baseball coaching victory

When his high school days are complete, Tucker plans to pursue a secondary education degree at Manchester University while also pitching for coach Rick Espeset’s Spartans. 

Manchester is an NCAA Division III power with many tournament triumphs. In 2014, the Spartans went 26-17, and Espeset picked up his sixth Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Coach of the Year award.

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