McInerney swinging through senior season at Illinois
Baseball has gone with Pat McInerney pretty much wherever he has gone — almost literally.
“I remember playing [whiffle] ball in my backyard when I was either 4 or 5," he told the DuPage Policy Journal in an email interview. "I had a big, foam, orange bat that I carried with me everywhere I went.” .
He still carries a big bat of sorts with him, but now he takes it to college baseball fields across the country.
As the starting first baseman for the University of Illinois, McInerney, a senior from Glen Ellyn, Ill. and alumnus of Benet Academy, has seen statistical improvement this season over last season.
In his first 18 games this season, McInerney batted .319 with a .390 on-base percentage and .597 slugging percentage, according to FightingIllini.com. His numbers in those categories last season were .301, .373 and .456, respectively.
Already this season, he hit career single-game highs in RBIs with five against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Feb. 24 and in total bases with seven at Florida Atlantic on March 3.
During his strong start to the 2017 campaign, McInerney was named to the all-tournament team in the Kleberg Bank College Classic, which was held Feb. 24-26 in Corpus Christi, Texas.
The honors started rolling in this year before the season began. He was named to the Perfect Game Preseason All-Big Ten squad at the designated hitter position, where he earned All-Big Ten Third Team recognition in 2015. He is ranked No. 32 among the nation's first basemen by D1Baseball.com.
Despite all the personal accolades and improvement, McInerney said the team aspect of baseball is what he likes best about the sport.
“You can have a bad day, but your teammates can pick you up,” he said. “On the flip side, you can have a career day, but you won't go anywhere without your teammates.”
McInerney, who has also been a designated hitter and outfielder at Illinois, said he was not highly recruited coming out of high school, despite being an Illinois High School Association Class 3A All-State selection as a senior.
“Luckily, baseball helped me get into the business school here and that was my No. 1 goal coming in,” he said. “I have been fortunate enough that the baseball success has followed.”
Since coming to Illinois, McInerney has earned academic all-Big Ten honors twice while working on a double major of business process management and marketing.
McInerney said his top goal this season is to win the conference title.
“Winning it in 2015 was one of the coolest things I have been a part of, and it would be awesome to end my career here with another one,” he said.
Then, McInerney will see where he takes his bat next.
“Hopefully, I am fortunate enough to continue my baseball career and play professionally,” he said.
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