Story by: Kelly Diesel, Staff Writer
After a season-ending injury last year, Brandon Gutzler has made the most of his comeback for the Murray State baseball team.
In Gutzler’s redshirt junior year with the Racers, he leads the team in several categories. He holds a team best in both batting average at .369 and slugging percentage at .624.
Gutzler has a team high 52 hits in his 141 at-bats and leads the team in RBIs with 39. He is second on the team for the most home runs with eight and is only behind freshman outfielder Ryan Perkins who has nine on the year.
With 12 doubles, Gutzler shares a three-way tie for the most doubles on the team with junior infielder Kipp Moore and freshman infielder Davis Sims.
Gutzler injured himself in 2016 running after a fly ball that was heading for the fence.
“I remember hitting the fence and trying to get up to run after the ball, but after my first step, I knew something was seriously wrong,” said Gutzler. “I remember standing up and my foot fell straight down toward the ground, it was as straight as can be.”
While dealing with the injury that kept Gutzler off the field for six months, he still found ways to be around and support the team. Gutzler said he tried to get into the dugout when he could, he commentated on some of the games and he even sang, “Take Me Out To The Ball Game,” before one of the games last season.
“I just tried to affiliate myself any way possible,” Gutzler said. “I tried to do anything possible to stay with the team and help out any way I could.”
Before suffering an injury last year, Gutzler played in only 16 games for the Racers. In those 16 games, he put up five home runs, 24 RBIs and had a batting average of .385. In 65 at-bats, Gutzler had seven doubles and a slugging percentage of .723.
In that same year, Gutzler was named OVC Player of the Week at the end of February. In the five games during that week, he hit 22 RBIs and had a batting average of .571.
Before coming to Murray State, Gutzler attended St. Louis Community College-Meramec for two years.
In 2014, his freshman year, Gutzler had 68 hits in 178 at-bats, giving him a batting average of .382. Gutzler also hit 17 doubles, 47 RBIs and five home runs.
Gutzler improved his sophomore year with a batting average of .423 with 83 hits on 196 at-bats. He also hit 16 home runs and 72 RBIs his sophomore year. He was selected to the NJCAA All-American Second Team in 2015 and was named the Region 16 Player of the Year.
The biggest difference to the St. Louis Community College-Meramec team and the team here at Murray State is their style of play, Gutzler said.
“The guys at Meramec all kind of grew up playing with and against each other,” Gutzler said. “Here some of the guys have done that growing up but it’s not as relaxed as Meramec and I think that is the biggest difference.
Gutzler’s plans after college including trying to play professional baseball somewhere.
“I can see myself doing it, and even succeeding with it,” Gutzler said. “It’s always been a childhood dream of mine and I want to make it come true.”
Head Coach Kevin Moulder said he believes Gutzler has the potential to play at the next level after college.
“I feel like he’s the best hitter every time we come to the park, no matter who we’re playing,” Moulder said. “He will have an opportunity to play professional baseball someday, he’s a next-level hitter.”