Poly's Jarkowski puts a different spin on his spring season

3-time Baltimore City tennis champ is playing baseball this year, and with a no-hitter to his credit, he's doing it in outstanding fashion

  • Poly senior Eric Jarkowski, a right-handed pitcher, has a no-hitter in his one start this season, his first with the Engineers. His ERA is 1.05 and his batting average is .308.
Poly senior Eric Jarkowski, a right-handed pitcher, has a no-hitter… (Lloyd Fox / Baltimore Sun…)
May 04, 2011|By Sandra McKee, The Baltimore Sun

Poly senior Eric Jarkowski is a three-time Baltimore City tennis champion, but this year he decided to go out for the Engineers baseball team.

Coach Corey Goodwin said it isn't unusual for seniors to try out for the first time but added that it is unusual for him to keep a senior on as a rookie.

"I'm surprised. It's hard to give a senior who is out for the first time a place on the team over a freshman or a sophomore, who you know will be contributing for two or three more years," Goodwin said. "But he can pitch, and we need pitching."

So far in this rain-interrupted season, Jarkowski, a right-hander, has a no-hitter in his one start. He also has a save. His ERA is 1.05 and his batting average is .308. In the classroom he carries a 3.4 GPA and he is interested in history. Jarkowski said he plans to go to UMBC and will play tennis there.

Why did you decide to play baseball instead of tennis this year?

I've played baseball my whole life in rec leagues. I wanted to give it a try in high school. In a way, I just thought I wanted to challenge myself with baseball.

Are there similarities between the two sports?

Yes. … Serving is like pitching. And you have to follow through in pitching, just like in tennis. But tennis is more like a battle. It's like boxing and chess, but on wheels. You have to plan your shots in advance.

How long have you been playing tennis and baseball, and what do you like about them?

I started playing tennis when I was 6. I just went out and played and liked it. I played with my younger brother and usually hit with my dad. What I like about tennis is that when you're playing, you can really focus on the ball and it take you places mentally. A lot of other sports aren't like that. You're out there by yourself, depending on yourself.

I've been playing baseball since I was 4or 5. … I played for Hampden and Roland Park rec leagues. I've always had a strong arm, and it made sense because my fastball is so good. I had eight strikeouts in the no-hitter. The fastball is my strikeout pitch, but I have a curveball and a changeup as well. When I played in the rec leagues, I played shortstop and third base. On the varsity, I play shortstop and pitch. I like both, but I prefer starting on the mound.

Has the transition been hard from tennis to baseball?

It is kind of hard. In tennis, you want to control your hitting and place it in a set area. In baseball you don't do that. Hitting it far is a good thing in baseball. And when I go to the plate, I have to focus on hitting hard and not swinging at bad pitches.

Do you have interests beyond sports?

I play the guitar — electric mostly. And I play the piano. I used to take piano lessons, but I've been teaching myself for a while. I like it for the same reason I like tennis. Music takes you places mentally. It's just how you feel when you play things well and be creative and come up with things.

Who has had the biggest impact on you?

My dad — he just pushes me to succeed and raise the bar for myself.

Do you know what you'd like to study in college?

I'm still trying to figure it out. It could be music, but I don't know. Maybe a little engineering, building stuff. We'll see.

Have you set goals for this season?

I want us to win the city championship.

Do you have an individual goal?

Personally, every time I get the ball on the mound I think, "Perfect game." If I give up a hit, I think, "A one-hitter." When that's gone, "a two-hitter" and so on.

Have you ever had a perfect game in rec league or anywhere?

I've never had one, but to have one would be — a perfect game would be just like a no-hitter, but more. It would be pure satisfaction. I'd know I did the job. Made the pitches I had to make and the defense came through.

sandra.mckee@baltsun.com

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