Dual threat

Max Engelbrekt pitches during the baseball Civil War on May 12.

Mitchell Monge Multimedia Contributor

Embodying what it means to be a student athlete is hard, but doing it while pitching for the best team in college baseball is even harder.

Meet Max Engelbrekt.

Engelbrekt joined the OSU baseball team in 2013, a squad that also made the College World Series. After getting his bachelors in finance, Engelbrekt is pursuing an MBA in data analytics while simultaneously pitching for the No.1 team in the nation.

Additionally, Engelbrekt was just named Pac-12 Baseball Scholar-Athlete of the year by the conference Monday morning. He is the first OSU player to receive the award since its initiation in 2008.

 “I learned how to manage time well, between school and between baseball, especially in grad school this year,” Engelbrekt said. “I’ve really learned how to manage my time and know what my schedule is, know what we have in a given day, when I can leave, what I can miss.”

Engelbrekt’s schedule is not an easy one. Between graduate school classes, practices and homework, he does not have a great deal of free time. 

“I picked up my diploma before a game two or three months ago,” Engelbrekt said.

Freshman pitcher Jake Mulholland, in his first year in the program, has witnessed the effort put forth by Engelbrekt in all that he does, especially in the classroom.

“He’s probably going to go to a two hour class right after this, so he’s always gone doing homework, and that’s something you have to really respect,” Mulholland said. “He’s definitely dedicated in both baseball and school.”

Engelbrekt’s work in the classroom earned him Pac-12 All-Academic First Team for 2017. Teammate and roommate Drew Rasmussen has witnessed Engelbrekt’s hard work throughout the season.

“He works just as hard mentally as he does physically,” Rasmussen said. “He understands the game, and on top of it, he’s fun to be around at all times.”

Engelbrekt has been an anchor in the bullpen for the Beavers. Engelbrekt has 22 saves since 2013, tied for third all-time at OSU.This season, he owns a 0.48 ERA in 18.2 innings pitched, and has struck out 18 batters. Against the University of Oregon, Engelbrekt pitched 3.2 shutout innings, allowing one hit while striking out three Ducks en route to the Beavers clinching the Pac-12 title.

Engelbrekt hopes to continue baseball after college, but is focusing on his degree going forward.

“Hopefully I get drafted,” Engelbrekt said. “That happens next week, so we’ll see how that goes. I don’t know, I’ve got another term to finish my MBA in the fall, so I’ll be back here until December. I’d like to stay on the west coast, I’d like to work for an analytics firm, or work at a big company.”

But with Engelbrekt’s work ethic, he can ultimately do whatever he wants to going forward.

“I don’t know how he does it, because that guy comes to practice from like one to four, and then has class from six to nine at night,” Rasmussen explained. “It just sounds like an awful schedule, especially on the days we have weights at like seven a.m.”

If anyone can do it, it would be Engelbrekt. In his five years, he has developed a good relationship with the coaching staff, and has become an assistant coach of sorts, with all the experience he has.

“As far as how he manages his time, and how he involves the other guys and helps them improve, I don’t think it could be overstated how important he’s been to this program over the last five years,” pitching coach Nate Yeskie said. “I jokingly ask him all the time ‘Hey, you sure we can’t find another (year) in there?’”

If Engelbrekt stayed another season, Yeskie likely wouldn’t be upset. He gets the highest praises from all of his coaches, for both his hard work and success. 

“He’s been wonderful,” head coach Pat Casey said. “One of the biggest thrills for me this year was letting him get an at-bat, and the timing was right, and seeing him get the last out of the regional—he’s been there for us all the time.”

Against Abilene Christian, Engelbrekt came into pinch-hit, his first at-bat of his career. Yeskie takes credit for “at least planting that seed” in Casey’s mind. But Casey wasn’t having any of it, as he “shook his head and walked away.”

According to Yeskie, Casey was thought the other team “might not find humor in the fact that we’re sending a guy to the plate for the first time”. However, Yeskie was on a mission.

“I said, ‘Gosh, they’re baseball guys, I think they’ll get it, and I think they’ll appreciate what we’re trying to do for a guy,’” Yeskie added.

Casey began to warm up to the idea, and was prepared to send Engelbrekt to the plate.

“I thought Gretler was going to hit, and he’d have to get the next guy to the dish for Max to hit,” Yeskie said. “And the next thing you know I see Gretler coming down, after I had just chewed him out about ‘You better find a way to get on base.’ He just took his helmet off, and everybody said, ‘Is this really happening?’”

Although Engelbrekt was unable to record a hit in his lone at-bat, the experience was one that Yeskie will not forget.

“So, when he went to the plate, and that was a moment I think will be engrained in my mind for many years to come,” Yeskie added.

As Engelbrekt’s storied career comes to a close, he has lived through the ups and downs of many historic teams. Having played with current and future MLB players, Engelbrekt’s experiences are one of a kind.

“Great perspective,” Yeskie noted. “Because he’s played with a lot of guys, I said to him one time, ‘Boy, we could make a heck of an all-star team just out of the guys you’ve played with.’”

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