The KROX Radio/Drafts Sports Bar and Grill Athlete of the Week is University of Minnesota Crookston Baseball player, Zach Rustad, a senior from Blaine that was named the NSIC pitcher of the week this week.
The UMC Baseball team started Northern Sun Conference (NSIC) play with three wins at Wayne State and Rustad threw a one-hit shutout in the first game of the series to set the tone and because of his efforts, he was named NSIC Pitcher of the Week. “We kind of look to our seniors to get us off to a good start in conference play,” said UMC head coach Steve Gust. “He sure did that. Just everything from his mental preparation to just being around the zone to just finishing the game, it was all just top notch. It’s all about him just pounding the zone and being aggressive. Not only with just one pitch, but all four of his pitches. He was able to do that this week where his fastball, curveball, slider, change-up were all plus pitches and the biggest thing though was that he was around the plate the whole game attacking hitters. He just had that type of mentality and that’s what we need from him.”
Rustad pitched all seven innings while allowing one hit, while striking out seven Wayne State hitters. Rustad earned his second win of the season and lowered his ERA to 6.49 on the season. Rustad is 2-3 on the season, with his previous win coming on February 23, over Dakota Wesleyan.
Last year, Zach started 12 games finishing with a 2-6 record and a 5.98 ERA. He led the team with 65 strikeouts while walking 34.
As a sophomore at Century College, Rustad posted a 6-1 mark with a 1.69 ERA in 53.1 innings pitched, with 60 strikeouts to 35 walks. As a freshman, Rustad appeared in 10 games, mostly out of the bullpen at Century College. He was 5-2 with a 4.57 ERA in 41.1 innings pitched, with 50 strikeouts and 31 walks.
In high school, he played for Blaine High School where he was an All-Conference and All-Section pick as a senior. As a junior, he was All-Conference, while as a sophomore he was All-Conference Honorable Mention.
First started playing baseball – Five years old
Favorite defensive position – Pitcher
Best part of your game – Curveball
Part of your game that still needs work – Change-up
Biggest thrill of your athletic career so far – Throwing one-hitter against Wayne State on Sunday
Do you have a pre-game ritual – None
Favorite diamond/stadium – Pioneer Park in Greenville, Tennessee (Hosted NJCAA World Series)
Favorite sport – Baseball
Favorite sports team – Minnesota Twins
Favorite Athlete – Joe Mauer
Last movie you’ve seen – The Ridiculous 6
Favorite TV program – The Office
Favorite food – Spaghetti
What music are you listening to? A little bit of country, but listens to everything
Something about you people don’t know – Only left-handed in sports
You’re stranded on a deserted island and you can have any three people with you? Griffin Fussy, Aaron Hollcraft, Ben Thoma
Plans after graduation – Move back home and work in sports and recreation in the Twin Cities
Dad – Tom (Subcontractor for deliveries)
Mom – Dawn (Business Analyst for Allina Health)
Sisters – Victoria (Inventory Analyst at Target’s Corporate Office)