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Published: May 01, 2008 12:54 am 

HS BASEBALL: Klock makes Grand Island tick

By Nate Beutel

GRAND ISLAND — Matt Klock has done a little of everything over his three-year varsity baseball career.

He’s stolen bases, had clutch base hits, hit a couple home runs, picked up some victories on the mound and even made a number of spectacular catches in the outfield. But ask veteran Grand Island coach Dean Santorio to describe Klock’s most valuable asset and his response is all you need to know about the Vikings’ senior.

“He takes everything so seriously,” Santorio said. “Every little aspect is important to him. Some kids might lose focus and take things for granted, but Matt never does that. He’s always looking to get better.”

Klock said those values have been ingrained in him from his family for as long as he can remember and he tries to often times lead his teammates by that same example.

“I just want to encourage everyone to get better, but with this group of guys it’s not a hard job at all,” Klock said.

He’s especially not concerned with the Vikings’ ace hurler — his younger brother, Joel. In fact, Matt, says he’s proud of what Joel’s been able to accomplish despite only being a sophomore.

“Before these last two years, we’ve only played on one team together, so it’s been a good experience,” Matt said of playing with his brother. “We’re both very supportive of each other.”

That support isn’t just in words, but in action as well as often times it’ll be Matt making a big catch in center field or coming up with a huge hit to help out Joel when he’s on the hill. And the same could be said for Joel when Matt takes to the mound.

Just last week, Matt made a start against three-time defending Niagara Frontier League champs Niagara-Wheatfield and turned in the best pitching performance of his career, according to Santorio.

“Him going over there, to a place where we’ve struggled, and pitching as well as he did was huge,” the coach said. “He was so focused on every pitch.”

Matt said he went against his brother’s strikeout philosophy and instead focused on letting his defense do the work. And Klock knows more than a thing or two about defense as he considers it perhaps his biggest asset.

“I take a lot of pride in it,” Klock said.

Santorio says it clearly shows on the field.

“He’s quick, he gets great reads on the ball and he’s got a really strong arm,” the coach said. “You don’t hear too much about it, but that helps us out in a big way.”

Klock’s not too shabby at the plate either. For the second consecutive season, he’s manning the No. 3 spot in the order and with GI off to such a hot start with the bats, he’s had plenty of chances to drive in runs.

“It’s tough to pitch to everybody because one through nine we’re really strong,” Klock said.

Santorio agreed.

“The middle part of our lineup really can’t be pitched around,” he said.

While the unbeaten start, accompanied by the blazing hot lineup, has certainly been enjoyable, Klock knows the Vikings must remain focused if they are to reach their goal of getting to Dunn Tire Park and the Section VI Class A title game.

“We have to remember what got us here,” he said. “As well as we are playing right now, we can’t get overconfident. We have to stay hungry.”

Klock plans to attend either Division II Mercyhurst or Division III St. John Fisher to continue his baseball career next fall. He hopes to major in physical therapy.

“He’s got what it takes to stay the course, play four years and do well at either school,” Santorio said.


• SCHOOL: Grand Island

• SPORT: Baseball

• GRADE: Senior

• POSITIONS: Center field, pitcher

• COACH’S QUOTE: “Every little aspect is important to him.”

— Dean Santorio