Koerper Ready to Carry Load in Brother's Absence

Published 06/01 2014 10:16PM

Updated 06/02 2014 12:52AM

(ST. JOSEPH) Through the first seven games of the Mustangs' season, they've mustered one home run, three doubles, and no triples while jumping out to a 5-2 start.

A big part of the lineup's pop a year ago were the Koerper brothers, Kris and Joe. Phil Welch Stadium has been special to the family with Kris contributing to a MINK League championship in 2012. This came shortly after reuniting with his brother at the park following his Mormon mission.

Joe joined his brother on the roster last summer, marking the first time the two had teamed up since high school. They combined to knock 10 home runs and 60 RBIs despite Kris going down with a season-ending injury in mid-July. 

Now, the elder Koerper might have played his last game in a Mustangs uniform. 

"He's got a job and is 26 and still living at home," Joe said. "He just wants to kind of move on with his life and he's got a good opportunity there."

For the 6-foot-4, 240-pounder to forgo a third tour in St. Joseph would task the Mustangs with replacing not just one of the most feared sticks in their lineup, but in the league. 

"It's a left-handed bat with power and energy," manager Matt Johnson said. "We're hoping that maybe he changes his mind here in the next couple weeks, but you always miss a guy like that in the lineup."

In the meantime, Johnson's ready to lay that responsibility on the younger Koerper, now with an extra year of experience as a 23-year-old sophomore at New Mexico State. He is also the largest player Johnson has to offer.

"He's by far a lot more mature than he was last year. He's really more of a complete hitter at this point. We're looking for him to be a leader and an anchor in that lineup."

Koerper is 6-for-16 with two runs scored so far, and is ready to sure up the cleanup spot after batting around his brother in 2013

"Last year was really the first time I had consistent playing time against college competition," Joe said. "It was a bit of a growing experience. I feel a lot more comfortable this year, just going through the routines and knowing what to expect." 

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