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Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014

Hall of Fame

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Former Oran standout helps Webster reach World Series

sports@standard-democrat.com

ST. LOUIS -- When the Webster University baseball team steps onto the stage this November to receive the Champions Award from the St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame, Southeast Missouri residents might recognize a familiar face.

That's because former Oran standout and current Gorlok pitcher Steven Dooley should be present when his team is honored for their recent run to the NCAA Division III World Series.

"It's a very honorable achievement," Dooley said of the award. "It just shows how Webster has progressed as a baseball team and what coach (Bill) Kurich had done for the school.

"We had a tremendous season this year considering all of the injuries we had throughout the season."

Webster's trip to the World Series capped an improbable history making run by the Gorloks that started when they secured their sixth straight St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC) title.

Back in regionals as the fifth-seed after winning just one game there the year prior, Webster swept all four of their games to advance to the World Series for the first time in school history.

Before they could lay claim to the National Championship, however, the Gorloks dropped two of their first three games in the double-elimination tournament to end their season.

Though they fell short in their title hunt, Dooley was pleased to see his team overcome a trying regular season to finish the year ranked eighth in the nation.

"I think at one point we had 12 or 13 people injured and our pitching staff wasn't as big as we would have hoped," Dooley said. "For the amount of players that we had we could have easily just been content with winning our conference tournament like we do every year.

"We could have been fine with that and used the excuse that we had three of our top pitchers from last year hurt at the very beginning, so they weren't with us. For us to go as far as we actually did, it was a phenomenal season for us."

More than a role player in Webster's World Series run, Dooley served as a key cog in the Gorlok's pitching staff all season. Used as both a starter and reliever Dooley finished the year with a 6-5 record and 3.62 earned-run-average.

In his 97 innings pitched he collected 87 strikeouts while holding hitters at a .227 batting-average.

By the end of the season Dooley had thrown in 26 games for Webster to set a new school record for most pitching appearances in a season.

"My first year here I had 16 appearances and then this year I don't know what happened, but I could throw every day," Dooley said. "It didn't matter how much I threw. After I threw the nine innings in regionals the next day my arm felt like I could have thrown nine more.

"It surprised me how much I threw, but looking back I threw at least one game in every three-game series, if not two."

Of all his accomplishments in his team's postseason run, Dooley noted his start in regionals as his proudest moment.

"I think my best game would have been my third game in regionals," he said. "The first day I closed out the first game and threw three innings and then the second day I closed out that game throwing 2 1/3.

"Then I came out the third day and threw 8 2/3 innings of scoreless ball against the No. 7 team in the nation, who were the one-seed (Birmingham Southern). That game will definitely be with me for a long time."

With his college season over Dooley has spent his summer playing for Hornell Dodgers of the New York Collegiate Baseball League. In helping the Dodgers to a 18-7 record so far, Dooley has appeared in six games, boasting a 2.63 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 24 innings pitched.

"Right now I'm doing pretty good up here," Dooley said. "My last 22 innings I've let up four earned runs.

"I came up here to get my walks down because I think I had 30-something walks in the school season and right now I'm at nine for the summer so I'm getting better."

As for his final year at Webster, when he'll be a fifth-year senior, Dooley has only one thing in mind after such a successful 2012 campaign.

"The main goal is just to win the World Series," he said. "I think we had a very good shot of winning it last year, but we didn't play ball like we did in regionals.

"I don't see any reason why we couldn't go back again this year and potentially win it. That's definitely the No. 1 goal for me right now."