Sablotny back on the mound for one more season

By Thomas Donley, @tdonleyDE

SIU graduate pitcher Bryce Sablotny thought his baseball career was over after the 2015 season. He was a senior who had two major injuries as a Saluki and wasn’t sure the NCAA would allow him to play as a graduate student.

After six weeks of appeals by his coaches and the university compliance department, the tall right-hander is back for one more season.

Sablotny said he found out five days before the start of the fall semester that he would be able to play again.

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“I really didn’t expect it,” he said. “I knew there was a slight chance that the NCAA was going to let me play, but we did everything we could.”

He transferred from Lincoln Land Community College, then Sablotny’s 2013 junior season was cut short just four weeks into his Saluki career when he tore a ligament in his right elbow. He missed the remainder of the season and the entirety of 2014 recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Sablotny came back as a redshirt senior in 2015, making 15 appearances and 10 starts. He became the Salukis’ No. 2 starter, posting a 2-4 record and a 3.95 ERA.

That could have been Sablotny’s final season as a Saluki, but his abbreviated junior season left a sliver of hope that he could return for another year. 

The NCAA denied SIU’s initial request for another year for Sablotny, beginning a month and a half of appeals.

“It was a lot of work,” pitching coach P.J. Finigan said. “We had to document everything that we went through with him coming back from his injury and how he just wasn’t ready to perform [in 2014]. He was still recovering quite a bit throughout the course of that year.”

Sablotny spent the summer working two jobs and putting in work on the mound when he had the chance. 

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“I would have been in the real world had I not been able to play,” said Sablotny, who had planned to spend the summer as a firearm sales associate at Gander Mountain in Marion. “So I was preparing for that and for baseball, as well.”

The Salukis have only two other senior pitchers this spring. Sablotny led the 2015 pitching staff with 70.2 innings pitched and his 3.95 ERA was second among SIU starters. Sophomore Chad Whitmer’s 48.0 innings last spring are second among returning pitchers.

His history as a leader is not lost on the coaching staff. 

“[Sablotny] doesn’t beat himself,” coach Ken Henderson said. “He does a lot of things right. We’re so young to begin with, having someone with his experience is huge.”

The Salukis open their season with a three-game series at McNeese State Feb. 19-21.

Thomas Donley can be reached at [email protected] or at 618-536-3307

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