STORM LAKE, Iowa — Making the most of one last shot.
After losing the majority of his senior baseball season at Buena Vista University because of the pandemic, former Fairmont High School standout Tyler Tennyson returned for his extra year of college eligibility and excelled both on the mound and at first base.
As one of the key members of the baseball team, Tennyson led the squad in innings pitched and at-bats.
“It gave me a lot of closure,” Tennyson said of returning for his extra season after COVID-19 took away his senior year. “I lost playing baseball with seven of my best friends, who I spent four years with and we worked so hard and they got their seasons taken away. Fortunately, I was able to find a way to come back. … It made coming back to practices and workouts, it made things a little better because I was just very grateful to have had one last opportunity.”
Because of his success on the field, Tennyson was one of five Beavers named to the All-American Rivers Conference team. Tennyson, second baseman Jordan Mathewson and outfielder Caden Mathewson were all named to the first team, while outfielder Parker Truesdell and utility player Calvin Harris made the second team. Tennyson also garned all-Central Region accolades.
Though many sports and seasons where affected by the lingering effects and regulations because of the pandemic, Tennyson said the Buena Vista team was lucky through the season.
“Thankfully, we didn’t really run into teams that got struck with COVID, and we didn’t get struck with a COVID outbreak,” Tennyson said. “Really, the only main difference (this season) was getting food after games. Usually we would go to a place to eat after a game and do that, but we had to eat everything on the bus and we had to stay in our hotel rooms once we got to the hotels. I think our conference protocols were exceptional in that aspect.”
In his first two seasons with Buena Vista, Tennyson was a position player only. As a freshman, he appeared in four games, then joined the regular lineup as a sophomore, playing in 29 games and ranking fifth on the team in batting average, hits and runs scored.
In his third year, Buena Vista’s coaches made the move to put Tennyson on the mound, where he made 10 starts and pitched 60 2/3 innings to complement his 110 at-bats. Tennyson said he doesn’t have the best stuff of pitchers around the conference, but his ability to locate his pitches kept him on the mound.
“I really didn’t pitch at all my freshman and sophomore seasons,” Tennyson said. “Junior year, they put me up on the mound and I just threw strikes. That’s really it, I threw strikes and got people out, just being consistent. There’s a lot of guys in our league who throw a lot harder and have a lot nastier stuff than I do, but you just got to be able to locate all your pitches. It does wonders for you.”
His ability to throw strikes kept Tennyson on the mound for his senior and graduate seasons.
This year, he led the team with a 2.07 ERA in a team-high 78 1/3 innings pitched, while he completed six starts, while no other member of the Beaver roster threw more than one complete game. Tennyson said his ability to finish his starts comes from his time playing town ball.
“Levi (Becker) and (Adam) Schmidt, they give you one game and they say you gotta go all nine,” Tennyson said in reference to the Fairmont amateur team’s player-coaches. “I mean, I’ve thrown 120-, 140-pitch complete games for the Martins, then the next week I do it again. I told my coaches, you give me a seven-inning game, I can go all seven easy, then that conference championship going all nine, I was like, ‘I’m gonna go all nine because that’s just how I pitch.’”
He led the team with an 8-2 record and recorded an incredible .96 WHIP, allowing only 64 hits and 11 walks in his 78 1/3 innings.
Tennyson put an exclamation point on his final college season with a shutout win over top-seeded Coe College in the ARC tournament on May, 20.
Tennyson completed the nine-inning game, allowing six hits and one walk, while striking out six to grab the shutout win.
“That game was special,” Tennyson said of the shutout. “We faced Coe earlier in the year, but it kind of sent our season in a little downward spiral because we lost our next seven straight. But that playoff game, I was facing the guy who became pitcher of the year (TJ Deardorff) for our conference and he’s an All-American. I knew I had to step up and my buddy and I were just like, “Let’s just go out there and kick some ***.’ Our defense played incredible, we made plays when we needed and it was just one of those things where you live up to the moment. It was something special.”
Along with his success on the field, Tennyson completed his career in the classroom, graduating with a degree in accounting and business.
Tennyson said working for his dad at Tennyson Construction is the next step for him careerwise, helping with odds and ends before looking to move to Des Moines, Iowa, to be closer to college friends and look for career opportunities in accounting and business.
He said having only one in-person class and one online class helped him focus on enjoying his final baseball season.
“School for me this year was actually really easy,” Tennyson said. “I only had to take two classes in the spring and one was online. I really just woke up in the morning, got my work done for the day and then, either got to workout or just relaxed until baseball practice. It was kind of a low-stress spring for me. I think that probably helped a lot, too, with how I played.”
With all his hard work on and off the field, Tennyson said he knew he earned a spot on the all-conference team.
“I didn’t really have any expectations to be put on there (early in the season),” Tennyson said. “But as the season progressed, I kind of knew I deserved to be on there. It’s just the product. There’s a lot of people involved with helping me get there. My best friend was our catcher (Tyler Stoltze) all year, he calls all the games and I wouldn’t be half the pitcher I was this year without him. He has a lot to do with that, and I have a lot of people to thank.”