David Mueller’s 2010 season — his first as a member of the Webster University baseball team — was the type of campaign that couldn’t possibly be duplicated. The then-sophomore right-handed pitcher compiled an 8-1 record, a 2.08 ERA and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of better than 2:1. Opponents batted only .198 against him.
It was a season of dominance, a season of shattered expectations, a season that rewrote the Webster baseball record books.
In hindsight, it was also the perfect set up for a letdown. In comparison to 2010, Mueller’s 2011 season was a Debbie Downer. He finished the year with a 6-3 record and a 3.66 ERA. Opponents batted .260 against him.
Mueller rededicated himself in the offseason. With help from Webster strength and conditioning coach Matt Saitz — who previously worked for the Atlanta Braves — Mueller entered the 2012 season in great shape.
“I felt like I came back and I had something to prove,” Mueller said. He was prepared to show 2010 was no fluke.
Instead, he’s proving 2010 was just a morsel, a taste, a whetting of the appetite for what he could truly accomplish. Mueller’s having the type of season that will reverberate throughout the Webster and St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference record books for decades to come.
As of April 11, Mueller has a 5-1 record, a 1.34 ERA and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 5.8:1. He’s allowed only eight earned runs in 53 2/3 innings pitched. He’s succeeded in his normal role as a starter (seven appearances). And when coach Bill Kurich has asked him to come out of the bullpen twice this season, he’s done just fine in that role, too.
Mueller’s dominated Division-III and Division-I opponents alike. His worst outing of the season was a seven-inning, five-hit, one-earned run start against Benedictine University — a game Mueller and the Gorloks lost 2-1.
His best outing of the season is debatable. Was it the complete game, two-hit shutout against Westminster College? What about the complete game, two-hit, 12-strikeout blanking of Blackburn College?
If you don’t find beating up on SLIAC opponents all that awe-inspiring, perhaps Mueller’s two-inning relief appearance against D-I Illinois State University will impress. Mueller faced the minimum against a Redbirds lineup that has averaged 7.7 runs per game this season. He struck out the final four batters he faced.
“I played against competition like that all summer, so I wasn’t really intimidated or scared,” Mueller said. “I just looked at it as another game, and it was a good feeling to strike out the side in that last inning.”
Now, Mueller has his sights set on helping the Gorloks achieve a program first — a berth in the College World Series.
“I want to win a regional championship and I want to get to the World Series,” Mueller said. “If I didn’t do so well personally, but I could help the team, that’s all I really want. I just want to win a regional so bad.”
It would be the perfect ending to a magnificent season for Mueller. The Gorloks’ ace has a track record of raising his level of performance. Don’t be surprised if his best is yet to come.