Oregon State was down to it’s last strike. Battling in a 2-2 count, junior shortstop Cadyn Grenier popped up a lazy fly ball into foul territory, Grenier and his teammates, expecting the worst, watched the ball miraculously drop between three dumbfounded Arkansas infielders, the Beavers were given a second chance.
Grenier then ripped a single past shortstop Jax Biggers and tied the game at three a piece just before junior outfielder and Minnesota Twins first-round pick Trevor Larnach came to the plate and launched a bullet over the right field wall giving Oregon State a 5-3 victory in Game 2 to stun the Razorbacks. The next night, the Beavers etched their place in history with a 5-0 victory behind sophomore pitcher Kevin Able’s 2 hit shutout to win the College World Series and make good on their second chance, now the question remains: Will Beavers ace pitcher Luke Heimlich be given a similar chance at redemption?
Heimlich, a 6’1 left hander from Puyallup, Washington just completed one of most outstanding individual seasons by a pitcher in Oregon State history as he went 16-3 with 2.92 ERA and compiled 159 strikeouts over 129 Innings Pitched. Off the field is where Heimlich has faced problems and distractions, as in 2011 he pleaded guilty to one felony charge of sexual molestation of his six-year-old niece. This act of physical abuse, first reported in 2017 by The Oregonian threw Heimlich into controversy as the Beavers were attempting to finish perhaps the greatest season in college baseball history after completing the regular season at a staggering 49-4.
Facing a major crossroads, Heimlich left the team despite a 0.81 ERA and being named the PAC-12 Conference Pitcher of the Year before making a return in 2018 for his senior season. Heimlich countered the allegations by denying the event, claiming his plea was to “quickly dispense with the case and for the sake of family relations.” This response did little to change reality however, as regardless of his evident first round talent and statistical consistency, he went undrafted in the 2018 MLB Draft. Despite over 40 rounds and 1,214 player selections, no team felt comfortable taking the risk on Heimlich’s character. His last chance at a baseball career now rests on a GM taking a chance on him and his talent even with these major complications and concerns surrounding him. Despite dialogue and internal discussions among many teams with the most notable being the Kansas City Royals who’s GM Dayton Moore announced they’d looked heavily into the situation and then said “I think the player has earned an opportunity to play professional baseball” Heimlich’s second chance hasn’t yet surfaced.
Overall, the situation remains one of mystery and question, I doubt this is the last we’ll see of Luke Heimlich because at the end of the day, sports are about performance. Similar situations in the past have surrounded athletes like NBA superstar Kobe Bryant, quarterbacks Ben Roethlisberger and Jameis Winston, leading me to believe Heimlich could have another chance down the road. What he did is inexcusable and if I was in the shoes of a Major League GM I wouldn’t consider the kid due to his past and the future controversy a signing would create. But despite my own opinion, the question still remains: Will Luke Heimlich play professional baseball?