Rumbelow's Father's Day gift: drafted by Yankees, playing in CWS

Photos of LSU pitcher Nick Rumbelow line the wall of Bruno's Pizza and Pasta, his family's restaurant, on Vine St. in Tyler. Rumbelow, of Bullard, plays baseball at LSU and was drafted by the New York Yankees. (Herb Nygren Jr. | Tyler Morning Telegraph)

Nick Rumbelow has been wowing baseball fans ever since his early years. So much so, he earned the utmost accolade from another player's parent at five years old.

His dad, Jay Rumbelow, recalled the moment.

"Do you see that boy over there? He's going to be a major leaguer some day," said the parent, referring to Nick.

Last week, Nick's major league potential was fully recognized in the MLB first-year player draft. He was selected in the seventh round by the New York Yankees and plans to join the organization sometime this summer.

Prior to then, however, Nick will be focused on something else —- winning a national title. A junior pitcher for the LSU Tigers, he's set to compete in the College World Series in Omaha, Neb.

With this being Father's Day Weekend, Nick is perhaps giving his dad the perfect gift.

"My dad's been instrumental in my success on and off the baseball field," he said. "I wouldn't be the baseball player I am and the man I am without his help. To be able to come out here and give this kind of gift to him shows how much he means to me."

Mr. Rumbelow, who balanced operating Bruno's Pizza and Pasta and coaching the Bullard Giants youth team, appreciates Nick's dedication in likewise fashion.

"He's always wanted to play baseball at a very high level," he said. "He wanted to go to LSU because they had just won the World Series and he wanted the opportunity to go there someday."

LSU (57-9), one of college baseball's flagship programs and a six-time national champion, meets UCLA (44-17) in the first round Sunday. The game is set for 7 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN2.

LSU, the nation's top-ranked team in the coaches' poll but the No. 4 seed entering the postseason, is currently playing like a squad poised to win its first title since 2009. The Tigers have cruised through the postseason (5-0 record) after beating then-No. 1 Vanderbilt in the SEC championship game.

The road to Omaha featured wins against Sam Houston State, Jackson State and Louisiana-Lafayette in the regional round, along with sweeping Oklahoma in the super regionals.

LSU has outscored its postseason opponents 37-14, has a .302 team batting average and boasts a 1.60 team ERA. All that combines to make the Tigers a bona-fide favorite against No. 1 North Carolina, North Carolina State, Mississippi State, Oregon State, Indiana, Louisville and UCLA.

SI.com's CWS preview even includes the headline: "Look out for LSU."

Consider Nick a major reason.

A set-up man for Tigers closer Chris Cotton, the Bullard High School graduate has appeared in 30 games this season and pitched 31 2-3 innings. During that time, he's registered 33 strikeouts and given up 12 runs (3.41 ERA).

To average a strikeout an inning at the collegiate level shows great potential, thus one reason the Yankees drafted him to be a high-strikeout reliever. His fastball is thrown in the low 90s and sets up a strong curveball.

"To get drafted by the Yankees is very humbling; they have a rich history and are well respected," Nick said. "I think I project as a relief pitcher and I'm pretty sure the Yankees drafted me to do that. They have some guys in the big-league system that I throw like."

To go from LSU to the Yankees means that Nick has a knack for playing for the top teams in baseball. Ever since Skip Bertman led them to five national titles spanning from 1991-2000, the Tigers have been a fan favorite in Omaha.

Nick's seeing that in person for the first time.

"There's so many LSU fans here you almost think you're in Baton Rouge," he said. "Not a lot of people get to enjoy this kind of environment. … You go everywhere and people are chanting LSU — the entire stadium and the entire town."

En route this playing in the CWS and moving on to pro baseball, Nick watched his dad work between 55 and 60 hours a week and coach the Bullard Giants for eight years. Patrons to Bruno's on South Vine have been able to follow Nick's rise to the big time, thanks to article clippings and photos that decorate the walls.

As Mr. Rumbelow, who leaves for Omaha on Monday, pointed out: "It takes a lot of time to run a restaurant."

"He's definitely dedicated so much of his life to help me reach where I am today, playing in the college world series and getting drafted by the Yankees," Nick said. "This is so awesome. This will probably be my last year of school here at LSU and to be able to do it in this kind of fashion; I waited three years to get here and it finally happened."

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