Teammates in high school, Jeremy McKinney and Evan Giles now find themselves experiencing success as members of the Indiana State University baseball program.

Two years apart in age — McKinney picked up his high school diploma from Franklin in 2013, Giles in 2015 — they arrived in Terre Haute having taken two different paths.

McKinney’s proved far less direct.

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Originally committed to play at the University of Cincinnati, McKinney had a change of heart after former Bearcats coach Brian Cleary lost his job in May 2013 following his 17th season with the program.

The firing enabled McKinney to get out of his commitment.

He played the fall season of baseball at Iowa Western Community College during the 2013-14 school year, then transferred approximately 1,200 miles away to Northwest Florida State College, a junior college located in the state’s panhandle.

“(Iowa Western) just wasn’t the school for me. It didn’t fit me right,” McKinney said. “At Northwest Florida, I got a full ride and basically got the chance to play baseball in Florida.”

McKinney played the spring season for the Raiders, then transferred to Indiana State to play at the Division I level. He pitched in six games in 2015, including three starts, before suffering a nerve injury in his right shoulder.

He received a medical hardship, which will allow McKinney another season of eligibility beyond this one. Last spring he served as the Sycamores’ primary closer, finishing with a 6-4 record and a team-high seven saves.

This season, he’s had five starts and been credited with a save. Among his more dominant performances came against then-No. 12 Washington on March 11, when he struck out nine batters in only 51/3 innings.

“Up until last Friday (a 20-12 loss at Dallas Baptist) I had been having a pretty good year,” McKinney said. “The Dallas Baptist game was probably the worst start of my life at any level. I wasn’t feeling well and my mind wasn’t there.”

Giles, the Daily Journal’s Player of the Year in 2015, made six appearances for ISU as a freshman, including one start. This season he’s being used primarily in middle relief.

“Last year I hardly pitched that much just getting used to the college game,” Giles said. “It’s the discipline guys have and players are more physical. I went from being one of the bigger guys on my high school team to one of the smaller players on this team.”

On Friday, Indiana State started a three-game home series against Missouri Valley Conference foe Bradley sporting an overall record of 18-20 and a 4-5 league mark.

The MVC tournament takes place May 23-27 in Springfield, Missouri. The Sycamores will be shooting for their first league tournament title since 1995.

Indiana State coach Mitch Hannahs knows that his pitching staff, including McKinney and Giles, must be in top form for that to happen.

“Jeremy and Evan have been critical for our pitching staff this year. With Jeremy coming from the bullpen and moving to our Friday night starter, he has shown the ability to adapt to whatever role we have needed,” Hannahs said.

“Evan has been solid for us all season with one of the best ERAs on the team. He has come in and gotten outs, and that is all you can ask from a pitcher.”

By the numbers

CUBS CONNECTION

Pitching statistics this season for current Indiana State University baseball players and former Franklin standouts Jeremy McKinney and Evan Giles:

Player;IP;W-L;ERA;BB;K

McKinney;42;4-1;4.29;24;54

Giles;13 2/3;1-0;2.63;5;8

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Mike Beas is a sports writer for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at mbeas@dailyjournal.net.