Stephen Janas shrugs and laughs when asked if he can explain his 0.75 ERA for Kennesaw State’s baseball team this season.
“(It) is a little ridiculous,” he said. “I’ve never pitched that well.”
Though college baseball has attempted to rein in its softball-like numbers with the change in bats, Janas’ stats still are impressive.
The Owls’ Friday starter, Janas is on pace to put up not only the best season in Kennesaw State baseball history, but also one of the better ones in Atlantic Sun Conference history.
Janas is 7-0 in 60 1/3 innings and has allowed 52 hits and only seven walks, less than one base runner per inning. Chad Jenkins was 8-1 with a 2.54 ERA, which included 41 consecutive scoreless innings, for the Owls in 2009. Joe Burns of Florida International posted the best ERA in conference history, 1.20 in 1995.
“It’s one of the top (seasons),” Kennesaw State coach Mike Sansing said. “The ERA is incredible for college baseball and metal bats. It’s pretty good.”
Janas has always had the ability to throw strikes since he was put on the mound as a 9-year-old. That continued during his career at Lassiter High School. Sansing said the key is that Janas is able to place his pitches.
“He goes right at you, but it’s not right at you,” Sansing said.
Though 6-f0ot-5, Janas doesn’t light up radar guns like other tall pitchers typically do. But he is able to stay on top of his two-seam fastball, keeping it naturally down in the strike zone. Janas also can locate that pitch up and in, if needed.
Janas usually tops out at 91 mph, but can vary the speed enough to keep hitters off-balance. He also has a breaking ball and change-up that he mixes in. He said his ability to throw those strikes makes his fastball more effective.
“Just trying to be Greg Maddux out here with (John) Smoltz’s velocity,” Janas joked. “The velocity isn’t there yet.”
That Janas is pitching is a testament to what he calls the genius of Dr. James Andrews.
Janas started seven games in 2012 before blowing out his right elbow. He underwent Tommy John ligament-replacement surgery and returned to the mound almost 10 months later.
His season started with three scoreless innings at Georgia, which he said was a confidence-booster. He followed that with two scoreless innings at Auburn and five more against Georgia Southern.
“Just blessed it started clicking early,” he said.
He was moved into the Friday role by Sansing and started with seven scoreless innings against Mercer in a no-decision. He then started a run of six consecutive wins that most recently included back-to-back complete-game victories at North Florida and at East Tennessee State. He is projected to have three more starts, beginning with Friday against South Carolina Upstate at KSU’s Stillwell Baseball Stadium.
Like Jenkins, who was selected in the first round of Major League Baseball’s amateur draft in 2009, Janas hopes to be selected this year when the draft starts June 6. Janas said he hopes to be a starter, but just wants to be picked.
“I will do whatever they tell me to fulfill the dream,” he said.