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Ramapo College pitcher Cory Heitler selected by Cincinnati Reds in 2018 MLB Draft

The 2018 season turned out to be a magical one for Ramapo College Roadrunners baseball right-handed junior pitcher, Cory Heitler. Finishing up the season with an 8-2 record, 2.34 ERA in 12 appearances, two shutouts, four complete games, holding opposing hitters to a .174 batting average, tossing the third no-hitter in Roadrunners baseball history, breaking the single season strikeout record with 113 and third pitcher in the program’s history to record over 100 strikeouts in a single season. Heitler also earned Mid-Atlantic Regional Second-Team and NJAC Second Team All-Conference honors.

Heitler awaited word to see if his name would be called in the 2018 MLB Draft. Finally in the 34th round and 1,009th pick his name was called when the Cincinnati Reds selected him. He became just the third player in school history to be drafted and one of 11 Division III athletes to be selected in this year’s draft.

“I was very anxious for those couple of days but when I saw my name was called I was very excited,” said Heitler. “Coach Travis Zilg has been helping me get exposure and I’m good friends with Joe Venturino (2016, Seattle Mariners, 34thround, 1,077 overall) who has been giving a lot of advice.”

“This is what I have been working for my entire life and take my game to the next level. Cincinnati (Reds) have been one of the teams’ I have been in contact with the most and I flew out for a pre-draft workout and spent two or three days in the city and in awe of how beautiful it is. The food was amazing and stood out to me most and I have never been to Cincinnati or Ohio before and fell in love with the city and made it all that better getting drafted by the Reds.”

“Great American Ball Park right on the water and by our hotel, I cam through the center field gate and when I walked through I couldn’t stop staring because it was so big and dream of mind to get foot on a major league field and amazing experience and out of body moment and how things are starting to pay off.”

Double G Sports: How do you feel about being one of 11 Division III athletes selected in this year’s MLB Draft?

Cory Heitler: I feel Division III athletes are very underrated and overlooked. There are a lot of athletes due to certain circumstances because they want to stay home or better for family to go to a Division III school. The NJAC(New Jersey Athletic Conference) is one of the most competitive baseball conferences in the country. I have been to Division I and II schools and Division III athletes should get more praise for what they do behind the scenes work, not the same funding and proud to have played and drafted from a Division III school.

Double G Sports: This season the Roadrunners ended up with a 35-15 record, 13-5 in the NJAC and made it to the NCAA New England Regional. How do you feel this year went for you and the rest of the team?

Cory Heitler: Our season was unknown before it started because of our coaching situation. This year we came together as a brotherhood and we have been playing for each other. I made sure to put in my time in the winter and fall to have the best year possible. We just fed off each other and that pushed us so far to the regionals. I wanted to prove something after coming back from surgery.

Going into the regionals the New England pre-poll selected Ramapo College as most likely to disappoint in the tournament and kind of stuck with us. Our hitting was not totally there but knew pitching could carry the team. We came together in that first game scoring 19 runs and shut them up real quick.

Double G Sports: What is your message to younger kids especially from your hometown of Fair Lawn and Bergen County that are playing in little league and high school that have aspirations to one day have their name called in the MLB Draft?

Cory Heitler: My best advice is always work hard, anything can happen in the game of baseball. Maybe I was not the most talented on the team but I worked the hardest and be the first one there and last one to leave and put in my extra time in the weight room.

Double G Sports: What has been the reaction from family, friends and in Fair Lawn?

Cory Heitler: It’s been exciting and immediately my phone started ringing off the hook and had to hang up on people. I couldn’t keep up with people who were texting me. It means so much to them because they bought me all the equipment, brought me to every game and biggest supporters. They are overwhelmed and excited and can’t wait to see me play wherever I go.

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Sunil Sunder Raj

Since July of 2014 Sunil Sunder Raj has been with In The Zone. Sunil has experience covering minor league baseball, high school and college sports. A beat writer for the Rockland Boulders for six years, Ramapo College men’s basketball for four years, NJIT men’s basketball and Seton Hall women’s basketball. Now focusing on feature articles about athletes, coaches and sports media professionals. A graduate of Ramapo College of New Jersey with a bachelor of arts degree in journalism.
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