His career as a Griffon has been almost as unique as his name.
Banks Born is a redshirt senior pitching as a lefty for Missouri Western. While his career here has been long and hard, the legacy he is leaving behind as the regular season wraps up is one to remember.
Born has been playing baseball since his tee-ball days 18 years ago. He played for Lee’s Summit West high school in Lee’s Summit, Missouri.
“My favorite part about baseball is the relationship you create with the guys; it’s like you’re all family, and all the little superstitions that go along with the game,” Born said.
In 2011, as a freshman, Born made eight appearances including two starts on the mound. In those appearances, he pitched a total of 10 innings and struck out eight batters.
His second season was a little rocky. Born spent the 2012 season sidelined with an injury after making just two appearances.
Born came back in 2013 looking stronger. In 10 games, he went 4-0 with a 3.48 ERA and 20 strikeouts. He pitched 33.2 innings that year, giving up 33 hits and 13 earned runs. Unfortunately, his season ended early once again due to injury.
In 2014, he made 11 appearances. Over 12.1 innings, he gave up 19 hits, seven earned runs and 10 strikeouts. Born earned a 5.11 ERA and a 2-0 record. In a 19-0 shutout victory over Lincoln, Born struck out two batters in his one inning pitched.
Head coach Buzz Verduzco says that Born is a reliable guy on the mound.
“Banks for us has kind of been our workhorse,” Verduzco said. “He’s been that guy who’s been a seven-inning pitcher. Any time we’re in a seven-inning ball game, we know that we’re going to get a lot out of him. We know he’s going to be in the strike zone. We know he’s going to get a lot of ground balls, which he has.”
This season, Born has earned quite the stat line.
In 12 appearances, Born has pitched a total of 56.2 innings. He’s given up 65 hits with 24 earned runs total. He’s walked 15 and struck out 22. Born currently sits at 5-1 with a 3.81 ERA.
“The most memorable game [was] at home against Missouri Southern,” Born said.
In that series, Born pitched 5.2 innings. He gave up six hits, but only one earned run. But despite the performance, Western fell 2-1 to the Lions in eight innings.
“He’s a competitor. He’s experienced,” Verduzco said. “So, any time we put him on the mound, we know we’re going to be in the game. He’s done a tremendous job all year. He’s kind of been our leader.”
This season hasn’t been exempt from injury for Born. There was a stretch in the middle of the season where he wore a boot on his foot whenever he was off the mound.
“I got hit in the foot by a come backer and it swelled pretty good for a couple of days, and we thought there was a hairline fracture,” Born said. “It has recovered perfectly fine.”
Four games remain in the regular season before the MIAA Tournament begins. Born says that he still has some high hopes for the remainder of his career at Western.
“On a personal note, all-conference would be really neat and a great honor,” Born said. “But, the season isn’t done yet and we still can make a run into postseason. Winning the conference tournament would be really special since that’s something this program has never done.”
The Griffons are set to welcome their rival, the Northwest Bearcats, for a four-game series. This weekend is the last home series of the season. On Saturday, the nine seniors will be recognized. First pitch on Friday, April 24, is set for 7 p.m.