LAKE STATION | Ask Brian Creech about what makes him good, his answer never uses the word "I."
"We all take the game one pitch at a time and we work together as a team," the Lake Station junior pitcher said. "We don't get ahead of any inning and we stay together. We all just enjoy playing together."
Ask him the best part of his game and, again, Creech won't talk about himself.
"I've got a lot of really good coaches around me who have taught me about mechanics and how to make my game better," he said. "I wouldn't be where I am without them."
Now, ask his coach where the Eagles would be without Creech and the answer is a little different. The Lake Station baseball team is off to the 4-4 start it aimed for, beating teams by coming from behind and not letting itself lose in blowouts.
"When he says something, people listen," Eagles coach Tony Hicks said of his ace. "Then they go out there and play with more energy. He's the kid you want on your team because they have such confidence when he's out there."
Lake Station's roster is littered with juniors, but not too many like Creech. The tall righty struck out 80 batters in 50 innings as a sophomore, and his pace this season is even swifter: Creech has fanned 27 of the 55 batters he's faced thus far.
On Wednesday, when the Eagles fell behind 4-0 to LaCrosse after one inning, Creech shook off the early slump and struck out 13 over the next six innings as his team rallied for an 8-4 win.
Living, breathing and eating baseball, Creech watches television to pick up nuances from major league pitchers. Though he's a Cubs fan, his confidence, he says, comes from the Phillies' Roy Halladay.
"When his team is down, he doesn't worry -- he just throws strikes," Creech said. "He plays hard 100 percent of the time."
That's what Creech aims to do. In the offseason, his catcher, John Warren, came to him to play catch, keeping the pitcher in shape and the team unified.
The brotherhood of Eagles is what both Creech and Hicks say has helped rejuvenate the team.
"I love my team," Creech said. "We've been together about two years, we know each other so well, and I can't win the game by myself."
Creech is 2-0 in three appearances this season with a 1.00 ERA and only two walks given up in 15 innings. Opposing batters are hitting just .145 off of him.
His team's record sits at .500 and Creech is just below that figure as a hitter. He carries a .468 average and includes two homers among his seven hits.
"He has just an enormous amount of talent and takes instruction on the baseball field so well," Hicks said. "When you combine the two, you get a really good ballplayer."