Chirpich returns from Division 1 program for summer ball

BACK HOME — Fairmont Martins infielder Spencer Chirpich fires a throw to first during an amateur baseball game against Adrain on June 26 at Herb Wolf Field. Chirpich has returned from Division 1 Abilene Christian University to play for the Martins this summer. (Photo by Greg Abel)

After his first year pitching in Division 1 baseball, Spencer Chirpich has returned to the field for the Fairmont Martins.

Chirpich pitched to a 7-4 record with a 4.62 ERA in his first season with Abilene Christian University.

He struck out 64 batters and gave up 81 hits over 78 innings pitched.

Following his two seasons pitching at the junior-college level with North Iowa Area Community College, the former Fairmont standout said playing at the Division 1 level has some stricter rules.

“I’d say it’s definitely a little better competition.” Chirpich said. “There’s a little higher standards than at the juco level, not knocking juco or anything, but being in a four-year program has a lot of different rules and a lot of different things going on.”

Among the different aspects of a Division 1 school are bigger classes, more students and big-time sports to watch during the offseason.

Chirpich said he enjoyed his first full year at the bigger university.

“I liked it, it’s a very nice campus, I liked my classes, I like the teachers,” Chirpich said. “The football team is pretty good, basketball team was fun to watch, there’s a lot of good things going on there.”

Although there are many things to do, one thing Chirpich has focused on is staying healthy after tearing his ulnar collateral ligament before the beginning of his collegiate athletic career.

He said this past season was a healthy one for him and the weather in Texas helped him stay loose through the year.

“My arm was pretty healthy throughout the whole year,” Chirpich said. “Playing in the warmer weather helps it recover a lot better and feel more loose than playing in the colder temperatures in the spring in Iowa.”

After a full, healthy season at Abilene Christian, Chirpich has decided to return to Fairmont to play for the Martins, a team he’s played with every year since he was in middle school. Chirpich played his first game for the Martins as a seventh grader and has continued to play for them every year since then, as long as he was not injured.

Chirpich said he enjoys playing for the Martins because it gives him the opportunity to play baseball for fun, without the added pressure of college ball.

“Just the comradery with the guys,” Chirpich said of what he enjoys most about playing with the Martins. “Being able to go play in college and play with different guys then come back and play with the guys you played with when you were younger in high school, it’s really fun to come back and play with them and have a good time. Playing baseball for fun and not be totally serious all the time or have the serious expectations.”

Though he pitches while playing in college, Chirpich is returning as a position player instead of a pitcher so he can rest his arm after his 78-inning spring season.

He said the stress on his arm from the collegiate season is why he is returning to the Martins instead of playing in a collegiate summer league.

“I threw a lot of innings over the spring so the head coach (Rick McCarty) said I didn’t have to do that and I could just rest my arm for the summer and come home,” Chirpich said. “One reason I like playing for the Martins is I get to play infield. I went to college to be a pitcher because that’s where I thought I’d have the most success, but I like to come back and play infield and make plays and be able to swing the bat, kinda play like I did in high school. That’s one of the things I like to do the most is play a different position and be in the field.”

After playing through the summer in Fairmont, Chirpich will return to Abilene Christian for his redshirt senior season. He said his main goal for his final collegiate season is to continue being an important part of the pitching rotation.

“I hope it’s the best season yet,” Chirpich said. “Last season for myself was a pretty good year, going into Division 1 baseball. But I hope to make it even better next year with more wins, better stats and hopefully get more wins for ACU baseball.”