Max Beatty has been putting up good numbers for the Corvallis Knights of the West Coast League this summer with a record of 1-1 and an ERA of 3.71. But those numbers go from impressive to downright unbelievable considering what he has gone through the past seven months.
Last December, Max was given a prognosis that no one wants to hear - he had testicular cancer. The Pacific Lutheran junior was hopeful that surgery would leave him with enough time to recover before the start of the 2012 PLU baseball season. But it was not to be as post-procedural tests showed traces of the disease still in his blood.
Chemotherapy caused him to miss his entire junior season as well as a semester of school. But that is all he will ever miss as a recent CT scan showed no sign of the disease.
"Throughout the whole process, I stayed completely positive. I knew I was going to beat this, it was only a matter of when," Max said. But even as confident as he was, being completely cancer free is a relief. "Still, to hear that news is awesome."
Now, he is back playing baseball again, helping the Knights to first place in the West Division of the WCL, a wood bat league consisting primarily of NCAA Division I and II players. Physically, Max feels he is still where he was before the chemotherapy but adds, "I need to get a feel back for some of my pitches." His fastball and cutter, he said, are "dialed in," but his changeup and slider are among those pitches that he wants to get back to pre-cancer form.
While his arm is the same talented arm he had his sophomore year, his stamina was affected by the months away from baseball. He has been able to throw in the low 90s early in games like he used to, but his velocity drops as the game progresses.
To get his endurance back, he has been running (along with Knights pitching coach Connor Lambert) every day, including on game days.
This has helped his stamina greatly as he had his longest outing of the season last Thursday, throwing 7 2/3 innings while giving up only four hits and three runs.
"Max and his family have been through an exhausting six months," PLU head coach Geoff Loomis said. "With children of my own, I can't imagine handling this with more strength and grace than (Max's parents) Chris and Ruth have shown. And Max's brother, Sam, has been there the entire way as well, keeping Max's spirits up. Ultimately, it has been Max's drive to beat this disease that has allowed him to get back to doing the things he loves. Pitching is one of those things, and he's dang good at it."
Max is going to tackle the issue of getting back to full strength the same way he tackled the biggest obstacle of his life. Head on.
LUTE NOTES: Max is one of several Lutes who are playing baseball this summer. A pair of starting pitchers during 2012 - freshmen aces Trevor Lubking and Collin Nilson - are both having outstanding summer seasons. Lubking is 2-0 with a 2.87 earned run average for the Wenatchee Applesox, who play in the same league as Beatty's Corvallis Knights. In fact, Lubking threw six innings of one-hit ball to beat Beatty and the Knights a couple of weeks ago. he has struck out 24 and allowed just 25 hits in 31 1/3 innings this summer. Nilson is 4-0 with a 1.75 earned run average for the Lacey Saints of the six-team Puget Sound Collegiate League. He has allowed 29 hits while striking out 20 and walking 10 in 36 innings for the Saint. Junior-to-be Bo Pearson is Nilson's teammate with the Saints, and though he is struggling with a .207 average, he is among the team leaders in doubles and runs batted in. Another junior-to-be, Nicholas Hall, is having a solid season for the Portland Toros of the WCL-Portland league. Hall is hitting .309 in 22 games (he is the only Toros player to appear in all 22 contests, and he is second on the team wtih 11 runs batted in. Hall, a shortstop for the Lutes, has an outstanding .976 fielding percentage this summer. Daniel Altchech is playing for the Mudville Baseball Club out of Seattle.
- PLU -
By James Silberman