Battle Creek, MI – The Battle Creek Bombers regret to announce that James Wernke was found dead in Fullerton, California on Tuesday.
Wernke, 21, disappeared over the weekend after being last seen leaving his girlfriend’s mother’s house at about 2 p.m. Saturday, December 12 to walk her yellow Labrador retriever. Search and rescue teams found the body shortly after 10 a.m. Tuesday along a Fullerton creek.
Authorities presume Wernke went into the creek bed during a rain storm when the creek was at full force. They say it appears he was carried downstream by the flood waters Saturday from where he either fell in or jumped in to save the dog.
“We are so saddened by the news of James’ death”, said Rick Lindau, Bombers General Manager. “James was a superb and talented pitcher, but more importantly, a first class young man who represented the Bombers very well during his stay in Battle Creek. On behalf of our organization, I would like to extend our deepest sympathies to the Wernke family during this difficult time.”
Wernke appeared in 17 games for the Bombers in 2009, recording a 1-2 record and a stingy 0.81 ERA. The 6-4, 190 pound lefty was a key performer out of the Bombers bullpen, striking out 31 batters in 22 1/3 innings pitched.
A standout pitcher on the Santa Ana (California) College baseball team, James recently earned a full scholarship to play at California State University, Long Beach, and was being scouted by a number of major league teams. In 2007, he was a 41st round draft pick of the Oakland Athletics.