The Wallenpaupack senior is part of the reason the Buckhorns are enjoying the best season in program history. Here, he talks more about winning a state quarterfinal, what it’s like to be in a rotation with fellow senior Aaron Husson, and what would happen if the Yankee fan faced off against Bombers slugger Aaron Judge.
Fastball working in the quarterfinal win? Fastball and changeup. … (The changeups) been working really well all year for me, but that game my curveball wasn’t too sharp, so my coach stuck mainly with the changeups and it seemed to work out pretty well.
Not a lot of players lean on changeups in high school. Just deception. Keeping the same arm speed and then next thing you know, it’s 10 mph slower. It just gets the hitters off balance and out in front.
Did you feel pressure to match what teammate Aaron Husson did the game before? I knew I had to get at least one (strikeout) to tie him. And we’ve been going back and forth. And now, after the game, his motivation for this coming Monday is “I just need to pass Austin.” … It’s a daily battle between the two of us.
The team has stayed on rotation all postseason. Does that show how much confidence they have in you and Husson? Coach has complete faith in all the pitchers we have, all four of us. But primarily, he likes throwing Hus and I out there, and then have Mitchell as a great backup reliever and closer.
You guys haven’t lost since that 14-inning marathon against Abington Heights on May 8. What was the mood like after that? After that game, we were obviously very tired, but we were just down in the dumps. We knew we had to come back and rebound. So, that night, it was a time for sorrow. But, we knew the next day we had to come back focused and ready to play.
You guys played really well in that game, too. We didn’t want to walk away saying we played bad, but we just wanted to walk away, see how bad that hurt, and just come back and not have it happen again. … It was amazing. It was just awesome to be in. I said it’s a senior night I’ll never forget, because 14 innings of great baseball, you can’t forget.
How much do you know about your next opponent, Whitehall? We know that they’re 12-12 currently on the year, but that doesn’t say anything about their team. We know they have a couple good lefty pitchers who can pound the strike zone and get outs. We just have to go out there, stay focused and play the baseball we’ve been playing.
You are going to Lock Haven. How’d that come about? I first got noticed by Lock Haven from the Top 44 showcase last year. I ended up getting injured at the top 44 showcase, so I was out for seven weeks. But then we had a tournament at Lock Haven University, and the first time the coach from Lock Haven ever approached me, he said “I heard you like fishing. We have a great river right here.” … I had a great tournament, and he just offered me right after that, about a week later.
You’re a Yankee fan. How much are you enjoying this season? It’s been going well. I like having Aaron Judge out there. I like Brett Gardner out there, too. They play well together.
Think you could get something by Judge? No.
At least you’re honest. It’d be scary but fun at the same time. But I have a feeling it would probably go about 500 feet off me, too.
What would a win in this next game mean for you guys? It’d mean the world. We’ve already had so many people from our community saying, “I can’t wait to go and watch you guys at Penn State if you win (today).” It would just be awesome. First time in school history to get out there.
If you could add another player from the league to your team, who would it be? Probably (West Scranton’s) Cole Stetzar, just to add another great stick in the lineup and another pitcher to have in the rotation.
Who are three people you’d like to have dinner with? I’d have to say probably my three deceased grandparents who I never got a chance to meet: Willis Gilpin and Jane Gilpin and Russell VanBuskirk.