They have been best friends since they were 12 years old. They were on the same Little League all-star team and they have been close teammates ever since. They are sophomore third baseman Mark Sobolewski and sophomore pitcher Eric Erickson.
While Sobolewski grew up in Florida, Erickson moved from Connecticut to Sarasota when he was 11.
“[In terms of baseball] it was great because in Connecticut there was no competition. Coming down to Florida was good because there are a lot of great baseball players,” Erickson said of the move.
Sobolewski and Erikson ended up as teammates at Sarasota High, where they became highly-touted recruits. Both were two-time first team 6A All-State selections.
Their high school coach, Clyde Metcalf, felt fortunate to have the opportunity to coach these two baseball stars.
“Mark was a tremendous athlete and leader,” Metcalf said. “He was a three-year starter for us and was a great student of the game. He was really smart and intelligent.”
Metcalf made similar remarks about Erickson. “Eric was one of a kind,” Metcalf said. “He had tremendous talent. He was without question the best pitcher in the state of Florida his senior season.”
Erickson shares the same respect for Metcalf.
“He was like my second dad,” Erickson said. “We always talk on the phone. I used to go over and do chores at his house. He is an unbelievable guy and an unbelievable coach.”
Sobolewski was drafted by the Houston Astros in the 20th round of the Major League Baseball draft and Erickson was drafted in the 43rd round by the New York Yankees. Both decided that college was the best thing for them.
The transition from high school to college did not affect the pair’s streak of success, as last year both Sobolewski and Erickson were named first team freshman All-Americans by Baseball America. Sobolewski led the team in hits with 88 while batting .345. He hit safely in 31 of his last 32 games. Erickson led the team in wins with 10 while posting a 2.50 ERA.
UM baseball Head Coach Jim Morris had nothing but positive remarks for these two sophomore studs.
“Mark is a unique guy,” Morris said. “He is a great player but also a great student. He is on a three-fourths academic scholarship. He had better than a 4.0 [GPA] in high school. He is the ideal student athlete.”
Morris looks for Erickson to have an even better year than he did last year.
“[Erickson] was our pitcher of the year last year as a freshman, which I don’t think has happened since I have been at Miami,” Morris said.
These two friends look to lead Miami to its fifth national title.
At the end of every practice, the team huddles up and says “Omaha.” The team not only wants to go to the College World Series – they want to win it.
“That is the goal every year,” Sobolewski said. “But this year especially we need to go to Omaha and win it. We feel like we have the right guys in place and the coaches all know how to win so hopefully we can put it all together throughout the season. The sky is the limit. We can play with anybody and the rest of the country knows Miami is going to be very good this year.”
Justin Antweil may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.