Five games. Five wins.
That was the story of the regular season for Iowa State club baseball pitcher Jiahong Mi.
Mi, sophomore in statistics, has been one of the essential pieces that has helped the Cyclones land a spot in the National Club Baseball Association’s (NCBA) Mid-American Regional Tournament this weekend.
“It’s really tough as a rookie to come on this team and perform, but he has never looked back,” said Iowa State baseball president Bobby Thompson. “He pitched well in Florida. He’s been doing a great job for sure.”
Thanks to the help of Mi, the Cyclones are three wins away from finding themselves in the NCBA World Series in Holly Springs, N.C. at the end of the month.
That’s an accomplishment the team has only had once in program history, when they qualified for the 2015 NCBA World Series in Paducah, Ky.
“I know what this team can do,” said Iowa State baseball vice president Cole Henry. “I know what this team is capable of. Moving forward, I think we are capable of beating many teams.”
Mi isn’t just a regular student-athlete at Iowa State.
The Kobe, Japan, native moved to Ames two years ago to live with his aunt. Mi fell in love with the school and eventually enrolled.
“This a nice place to study and a great environment,” Mi said. “She just introduced me to this college and I came here.”
The move hasn’t come without challenges for Mi, however.
Mi has only been studying English for two years, and he still has trouble speaking it.
“They're very kind guys and I’m not good at English, but they’re such nice guys,” Mi said.
His unique name has led to his teammates giving him a nickname.
“We just call him J,” Thompson said.
This season, “J” has been getting rave reviews from his teammates. The starting pitcher and outfielder is one of Iowa State’s best players.
“J has been fun,” Henry said. “There are a lot of things you look for in a pitcher and command over off-speed [pitches] is what we look for especially. There has been a number of times this year just for instance where you look at J and the way he throws.”
Mi is currently second on the team in earned run average (ERA) amongst starting pitchers, allowing 1.44 earned runs per start.
For comparison, the top ERA in the MLB’s National League belongs to St. Louis’ Carlos Martinez at 1.62.
“It’ll be a 3-0 count and he feels confident throwing a change-up to a batter,” Henry said. “That speaks a lot to the amount of control that he has.”
However, Mi doesn't think anything of it, he's just doing what he knows how to do.
“I just want to try to do my best and be part of the team,” Mi said simply.
Iowa State will be leaning on Mi's success this weekend as well.
If Iowa State wants to get to the NCBA World Series, they will have to go through the No. 1 seed Colorado State Rams.
CSU comes into the tournament as the 10th ranked team in the nation, while Iowa State is still in the "receiving votes" category.
But with the pitching that Iowa State brings to the tournament, they know anything can happen.
“Everything we have asked him [Mi] to do, he’s done,” Thompson said. “We’re really confident with him [on the mound].”
Iowa State’s first game at regionals will be on Friday, when they take on the No. 3 seed Missouri Tigers at 4 p.m. No matter if they win or lose, they will not play again until Saturday.