Bluffton’s pair of aces

March 27, 2011

BLUFFTON – Bluffton right-hander Nathan Cheney is the crafty veteran.His teammate, right-hander Gabe Goldsberry, is only in his third year on the mound.But both have one thing in common: They both rack up the ‘W’s.’Seniors Cheney and Goldsberry both won eight games en route to helping Bluffton to a 20-7 season (8-1 Northwest Conference) and a three-way share of the NWC title with Paulding and Lima Central Catholic. The Pirates reached the Division III district finals before falling to Coldwater.The two are back for their final go around this spring. Last year the 6-foot-1, 200-pound Cheney went 8-2 with a 1.28 ERA. In 76 innings, he struck out 70 and walked 16. He gave up 49 hits.The 6-foot-2, 180-pound Goldsberry was 8-2 with a 1.77. In 59 innings, he struck out 50 and walked 17. He gave up 30 hits.“It’s obviously great to have two great pitchers to put out there,” Bluffton coach Sam Fruchey. “Having a good pitcher out there makes your whole defense better. I know every time one of them is on the hill our team goes out expecting to win because they know our pitcher is going to give them a great effort. It brings team morale up every time they’re out there.”Cheney and Goldsberry have played together since T-ball. Cheney was a catcher in his younger years, before moving to pitcher before high school. He then was a key starter on the mound his freshman year. Goldsberry was an infielder/outfielder until his sophomore year.“I really wanted to pitch,” Goldsberry said. “In ACME (sophomore year), that’s when I learned how to pitch. I had the urge to ask (the coaches in ACME) how to pitch. I wanted to start as a reliever. I only started out pitching a couple of innings sophomore year.”Over the last two years, he’s talked to Cheney about pitching.“Cheney taught me how to throw my curveball,” Goldsberry said. “It’s not as good as his. ... I spent a lot of time working at it and throwing of the mound.  It’s not like throwing from shortstop to first. It’s a matter of hitting the glove.”Two years ago Cheney and Goldsberry helped steer the Bluffton ACME team to the state tournament. Since then, the two have spent their summer playing Legion ball. Both have pitched for former Cardinals pitcher Gene Stechschulte with the Ottawa Legion.Goldsberry was on the mound when Bluffton defeated Miller City to win the district ACME title and send the team to state.“It was the best feeling of my life, especially coming off the field and getting in the dog pile,” Goldsberry said. “It gives me goosebumps every time I think of it.”Cheney relies heavily on a breaking ball, he can throw for strikes anytime in the count.“It’s (the curve) my go-to ball, but this year I’m mixing in some other pitches,” Cheney said. His repertoire now includes a fastball and breaking ball, along with “a change-up and a slurve this year, which is basically a sidearm curveball.”Goldsberry has a fastball, breaking ball and change-up and they come from different arm slots.“I can throw them from all kind of angles with my arm,” he said. “I go three-quarters, sidearm and over the top. You have to mix it up.”Since last season, the two have developed a friendly competition.“We push each other pretty hard,” Cheney said. “And you know if you’re having an off day or your arm is hurting, you know he can come in and back you up and he did last year against LCC, big time for me. We don’t look at each other’s stats. We just look at the win column.”The pair of aces has more in common than baffling hitters. “We both like the outdoors,” Cheney said. “We like hunting and fishing.”The bottom-line motivation for both is another NWC title.“I want to do as good as he does,” Goldsberry said. “He wants to do as good as I do. We want to push each other to the next level.”