After a tough game at Penn State on March 22, Indiana baseball coach Chris Lemonis sat down with infielder Isaiah Pasteur.
Pasteur, a 2014 Winters Mill High graduate, had quickly become a contributor for the Hoosiers. But on this particular day, in the second game of a doubleheader against the Nittany Lions, Pasteur wasn't at his best.
He was 0 for 4 at the plate with a strikeout and made three errors at shortstop.
"We told him, 'You're one of our guys, man. We need you there,'" Lemonis said.
And Pasteur took his coach's advice in stride.
"Really it was just to move on and put it behind me," Pasteur said. "The game was over and I just had to look forward to the next game and try to do my best to help the team win."
So the next game, Pasteur did just that. He powered Indiana to a victory by providing the team's entire offense.
Pasteur hit his first two career home runs, a pair of shots to left field, drove in all three of the team's runs, and led the No. 19-ranked Hoosiers over No. 7 Louisville, 3-0.
"I thought the way he handled that adversity and came back out and played a great game against a great team says a lot about his character," Lemonis said. "You don't see that from a lot of freshmen."
That's because Pasteur, the 2014 Times Baseball Player of the Year, isn't a typical freshman baseball player. Just one year after being a standout at Winters Mill, he is already playing a key role for a Division I program.
Entering Saturday, Pasteur was batting .262 (11 for 42) with nine RBIs. Of Indiana's 22 games, he had played in 20 and started 12.
Pasteur not only excelled as an infielder in high school, he was also one of Carroll's best pitchers his senior season. But Lemonis decided because the Hoosiers have a strong core of pitchers this season, Pasteur should just focus on being an infielder his first season.
"We have a great pitching staff right now," Pasteur said. "There's really no need for me to try to do two and be decent at both instead of trying to be great at one."
That's not to rule out a return to the mound for the former Falcon, who led the county in strikeouts last season.
Lemonis said Pasteur has been pitching some at practice, he plans to have him pitch more over the summer, and then possibly contribute on the mound next season.
As for this season, Lemonis has been impressed with Pasteur's overall ability.
"His ceiling is so high. He's one of the fastest players in the country I would imagine if you put his 60-yard time up against people," Lemonis said. "He's one of the best athletes that I've coached in my career."
While Pasteur has started off well in terms of individual statistics, that's not his main focus. He is more concerned about the Hoosiers' overall success.
Indiana entered Saturday with a 16-6 record, which included a 7-0 record at home and a 12-game winning streak before the loss to Penn State.
"It's been a great program and a winning program," Pasteur said. "I'm just glad that I can perform and help the team win."
Pasteur had committed to play for the Hoosiers since his junior year of high school. However, there was also some interest in the 6-foot-2 infielder from several major league teams.
The WM grad said near the end of his senior year he had heard from the Detroit Tigers, Washington Nationals, and others, and had thrown for several big-league team representatives.
While Pasteur ended up not getting selected in the MLB Draft and went with his original plan of playing at the college level, his new coach sees his athletic infielder possibly moving on to great things.
"There's no doubt," Lemonis said. "He's got to keep getting better [but] with his tools, he can play this game for a long time if he keeps working at it."
Reach staff writer Jake Rill at 410-857-7875 or email@example.com.