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For brothers Jake and Luke Murray, two college baseball careers finally intersect at NKU

Getting to play NCAA Division I baseball is a rare feat, and so is having two brothers achieve that deed.

But what Northern Kentucky University’s Jake and Luke Murray did this season was even more unique: They both had the opportunity to play for the same Division I team at the same time.

Jake, an outfielder who just finished his senior season with the Norse, and Luke, a freshman catcher, had quite the time describing each other in three words. Jake declared Luke as “a goofy jerk,” while Luke thinks his brother is “a meat head.”

Luke had more to say, however, stating that Jake is not as handsome as he thinks he is, causing Jake to fire back that Luke’s not as tall as he thinks he is (for the record, younger brother Luke is listed three inches taller on NKU’s roster). The conversation between the two went even more off the rails when they debated who was better in certain baseball skills.

“Essentially everything,” said Jake.

“Darn, that’s what I was going to say, too,” Luke quipped back.

Jake Murray

“But in all seriousness, Luke has a great arm and is a great catcher, but I may have a little more pop than him,” Jake said, drawing a sarcastic cackle from Luke. “I’m a little more vocal and I’m able to talk to people on the field better than him, but that’ll come with age. I’m definitely way faster than him.”

“Yeah, he’s got the speed on me, but when you hit bombs all the time, you don’t have to run that much,” said Luke. “He’s always running down these infield singles.”

The brother antics have been a staple between the two and the competitive nature runs deep according to their parents, Mark and Sherry.

“They were pretty competitive despite being four years apart,” Mark said. “When they were outside playing different games, we’d have one of them coming back in the house pretty upset because they weren’t winning.”

“Luke is the funny one; he’s always been a character since he was little,” Sherry said, finally bringing impartial observations to the table. “Jake is definitely a quiet observer and thinker; he’s a little more serious, but just as competitive.”

The bumpy road to NKU

Although the duo had the chance to play together this season, it wasn’t the typical road to make it happen. Older brother Jake didn’t have the ideal start to his college career after originally playing for the University of Cincinnati. After spending the fall semester with the Bearcats, it wasn’t the best fit for the outfielder, causing him to lose his love for baseball.

It wasn’t until UC Clermont coach Keith Bauman connected with the lost outfielder that Jake gave baseball another try.

“It was awful, but Jake’s whole baseball career has never been easy for him,” said his mother. “He’s never really had a choice in what’s happened along the way. When he left UC, we thank God every day for Keith Bauman, because he recognized the good in Jake and pretty much insisted that, ‘you know what, you’re not going to quit, you’re too good at baseball and you’re going to come to Clermont.'”

“At that point in my life, I didn’t think I was ever going to play seriously again,” Jake recalled. “Once I got there, I found that love for the game that I once had. After that, I wanted to get back to the level where I knew I could compete, and that was at a Division I level in my mind.”

After a scorching All-American campaign with the Cougars that included a 20-game hitting streak and 15 stolen bases, Bauman made it his mission to get the Cincinnati native back to the top level of college baseball. Soon enough, head NKU baseball coach Todd Asalon came calling.

“We reached out to every Division I school you could imagine and Todd took a chance with me and I ran with it from there,” Jake said.

Luke Murray

The chance Asalon took paid off as Murray has been an important contributor for the last two seasons. In fact, he was off to his best season yet as a Norse before the 2020 campaign was shortened. The senior was hitting at a .310 rate, had a pair of home runs and brought seven runners back to home plate over the course of 17 games.

Luke also had a less-than-normal path getting to NKU. He wasn’t highly recruited, and it eventually put him in a high-pressure situation regarding his future.

“I didn’t really have that big of a recruiting process,” Luke said. “The first offer I got was from Ohio Dominican and it was the summer of my junior year. They only gave me a few months to decide. I was always talking to NKU during that time but they already had four catchers so they weren’t sure.”

“It came down to a Friday where the Ohio Dominican coach told me I had to commit or not by that night. So, I called [NKU assistant coach] Dizzy [Peyton] that morning and sure enough, I get another call about an hour and a half before I have to make my decision and they offered me, so I committed to NKU right there on the spot.”

Two brothers, one half-inning of Division I baseball

It was a bigger deal than two brothers getting to play Division I baseball together for Jake and Luke. Despite having played the sport for all of their lives, the two had never shared in-game action on the same team. By the time Luke was a freshman in high school, for example, Jake was off to college.

“We never thought this would ever happen,” said their mother, Sherry. “Looking back to when Jake transferred to NKU from UC Clermont and he had to sit out a year, we thought it was horrible. Had that not happened, they wouldn’t have been able to play together at NKU, so that’s a blessing.

“There are moments where I’m like, ‘Oh my God, we have two kids that are playing DI ball.’ I’m so proud of them because they both worked so hard at it. It’s all they ever wanted.”

“It’s just really neat having two kids that play baseball and it does become that they’re good enough to be DI players and it ended up being at the same school,” says their father, Mark. “We were originally having to think about who’d go watch Luke play at one school and Jake at the other, but it worked out great.”

The 2020 season was cut short for the pair of brothers, but they did get to play a half-inning of a real game together. On Feb. 22, in a matchup against Furman, the Norse subbed Luke in at catcher in the bottom of the eighth while his brother was already out in centerfield. Luke was a ball of nerves trying to get catching gear on for his NKU debut and didn’t have a chance to fully enjoy what was happening, but the seasoned Jake stood proud and took it all in.

“I really tried to preach to myself that this was my last year,” Jake said. “My main goal this year was to work on really taking things in, noticing the moment you’re in and being where your feet are. When we came into that inning, it was a very surreal moment because we had never really got to truly play together.

“When he stepped on the field I just took it in and thought, ‘Wow, this is really cool and a blessing.’ I was proud of him of getting to where he’s at. A lot of emotions were hitting me.”

Three outs of baseball were all the two had together on the field. Another chance arose in the top of the ninth after Luke reached after getting hit by a pitch, but he scored before Jake reached on a fielder’s choice. Regardless, the duo wouldn’t trade what happened for the world.

“Just the fact that I got to be in the dugout and traveling to different places with my brother was amazing,” said Luke. “Not a lot of people get to play Division I baseball, let alone with your brother.”

From NKU Athletics Communications

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