When first baseman Kyler Kent steps up to bat to his walk-up music, he has a few things on his mind. Kent is immediately pumped up, and ready to make a big hit for his team, but he is also reminded of his roots and hometown.
Like many on the Gorloks’ men’s baseball team, Kent’s signature song – “The Way I Talk” by Morgan Wallen – is more than just a cool beat to vibe to. As he says, it reminds him of his culture.
“It definitely relates to me because of me being from Texas and pretty far from there,” Kent said. “But I know myself and most of the team pick songs from a genre they normally listen to, and that get them pumped up. I love the song, and it has a good beat.”
Gorlok batters had differing viewpoints on overall importance of the walk-up music. Freshman outfielder Brandon Dryer walks up to the song “Springsteen” by Eric Church. Dryer said he saw the walk-up song as a special part of baseball that added a boost to the team’s confidence.
“It adds to the home field advantage, getting to hear your song as you walk up to the plate,” Dryer said. “I used that song all through high school, and it is a huge part of me.”
For Dryer, the results produced almost immediately. Given that additional boost, Dryer connected on the first hit of his collegiate career in a home game against Transylvania. Though the Gorloks lost the game 2-1, Dryer said the moment was unforgettable.
“I’ve always dreamed of playing college baseball, and getting that first hit was definitely a dream come true,” Dryer said. “Walking up to the plate was definitely a stressful moment. I was just excited to just get that hit and help the team than personal accomplishments.”
The Gorloks have historically fared better in road games, though the “home field advantage” of the walk-up song is backed by statistics. The last time the Gorloks won fewer than 10 home games was 2007, and since then, they have gone 153-37 at GCS Ballpark in Sauget, Ill.
Their win total correlates to what they have been able to do at the plate. Last season, the Gorloks led the entire St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC) in hits, being the only university in the conference to account for 500 or more hits. This season’s team ranks fourth among the conference in hits.
Junior outfielder Adam Lovell, one of only 11 Gorloks to record a four runs batted in (RBI) game, said that he saw the walk-up music as a calming factor that eased his mind before he got up to bat. He uses the song “CLOSE” by Rae Sremmurd to get himself zoned in.
“It relaxes me for a better mind frame at the plate,” Lovell said. “Rae Sremmurd is one of my favorite artists, and one of their songs puts me in that relaxed state of mind every time I play it, no matter how many times it is played.”
The idea of walk-up music for baseball players is a relatively new concept. It seeped its way into the major leagues in the late 1980s, with the effect of sending a message to the opponent. In today’s culture, players are allowed to pick their own songs as a form of self-expression, creativity, and motivation.
For the Gorloks, they will be hoping to stay motivated as they head to Kentucky for a double-header against Spalding University.
They currently sit at 10-3, good for second place in the SLIAC’s Western Division. Around this time last year, the Gorloks kickstarted a 21-game winning streak, which at the time was the longest active win streak among all NCAA baseball playing schools.
One key reason for that streak was the Gorloks’ ability to get to the plate and hit at an elite level. During that run, the Gorloks averaged 10.3 runs per game and had nine games of 10 or more. Multiple players, including senior Danny Strohm called this the favorite time of his baseball career.
“My favorite moment as a Gorlok is the (21-game) winning streak we had last year,” Strohm said. “To have that winning streak is unheard of, and something I will always remember.”