---- — Shawn Carlson loved the thought of finally being a starting pitcher again, having been a very good high school pitcher at Andover High five or so years earlier.
After having “Tommy John” surgery while a freshman at junior college powerhouse San Jacinto College in Houston, he stayed for two more years to pitched out of the bullpen, transferring to Fisher College in Boston to play for North Andover native Scott Dulin this past year.
Dulin wanted Carlson to be a starter, too.
“I was really nervous at first,” said Carlson. “It’s a lot different as a starter, you know for four or five days, which I why I like it. But it’s different. As a reliever you pitch one inning, maybe two. It took some time adjusting.”
Well, not that long. After coming in as a reliever in his first game and taking the loss in a 1-0 game, he started the last two games, allowing three earned runs in a 4-2 loss and then, last week, pitching seven shutout innings (he allowed five hits, struck out six and walked three batters) in a 1-0 win over Houston-Victoria in Houston. It capped a remarkable four-game sweep and sent Fisher home with its best southern trip (11-7) in program history.
“Shawn has proven to be a huge addition to this pitching staff and the team,” said Coach Dulin, who resides in Methuen. “Don’t let his quiet and unassuming nature fool you. When he steps on the mound he is a fierce competitor who is driven to do well and win games.
“He has made a good transition to the starter role,” said Coach Dulin. “I think he has learned a lot from being a reliever. As a reliever he had to come in and attack hitters right away and now he takes that same plan into the starting role. He’s a very coachable player with all kinds of upside.”
Carlson said working with Dulin this early season has opened his eyes. “Coach has been incredible in giving me confidence that I can succeed,” said Carlson, who now resides in Lawrence. “I feel like a different pitcher now.”
Other locals helping Fisher
Coach Dulin, who in the past has made it a point to recruit players from the Merrimack Valley, said it’s been a few years since he had a big contingent of locals on his squad.
“We were losing out on guys who were going south to play at different junior colleges,” said Dulin, whose brother Todd is the baseball coach at North Andover High. “Fortunately for us, they went south, experienced success at the collegiate level, and now have decided put on this uniform for their last two years.”
Others who have joined Carlson are Moises Melo, a senior out of Methuen.
“He is our only senior who has been with us for all four years,” said Dulin. “He is coming close to breaking the all-time games pitched record at Fisher College.”
Dominic Zaher, a junior out of Chelmsford, has been a three-year starter and mainstay in the lineup.
“Our new additions this year have played a big role in our early success and have bolstered a team that won 35 games last spring,” said Dulin. “Ramcy Lora (of Lawrence) has come here for his senior year. He spent last season with NAIA World Series participant, Rogers State University (in Oklahoma). Lora has been a good leader and will be solid catcher for us.
“Sander Vargas (of Lawrence) came to us from Trinidad State and has been a solid all-around at shortstop,” said Dulin. “And Victor Mendez, with Shawn Carlson, make up two parts of our Big Three in the rotation..”
Walsh off to good start at UMass
The question with Brandon Walsh playing baseball at UMass Amherst has never been “if” he’s going to be good, it has always been a matter of “when.” And “when” appears to be right now.
The North Andover native and sophomore has gotten off to a good start as a combo catcher/pitcher.
While UMass has struggled mightily coming into this weekend at 1-12, Walsh has been one of the Minutmen’s solid performers as a catcher, starting eight games hitting .276 with a homer and four RBI. He’s also had two relief appearances, not faring so well (5.1 innings, 6 ER, 7 BB, 8 K) but showing promise.
“Brandon will play a key role for us this year as a pitcher, mostly late in the game as a short reliever,” said UMass coach Mike Stone. “At catcher, he’s beginning to adjust timing-wise at the plate and he will make a contribution offensively as well.”
Stone said the 6-foot-2, 205-pounder has embraced the dual roles, which is a rare occurrence even at the high school level.
“Brandon is a tough competitor and wants to help the ball club become successful,” said Stone. “He will have a very meaningful role with the team moving forward. Fortunately, he’s a big strong kid and he bounces back pretty well with all the throwing he has to do.”
Huskies catcher is Salem’s Treff
We had a few stories recently about the emergence of Andover resident Dustin Hunt, a Northeastern University freshman pitcher, and his early successes.
Well, one of the reasons might be the guy calling his pitchers, sophomore Joshua Treff, of Salem, N.H. Treff has caught all 16 games for the Huskies, which are a respectable 7-9 heading into the weekend. While Treff hasn’t gotten off to a great start offensively, hitting .204, he is tied for third on the team with six walks and his defense has been its typical stellar self.
“Josh is as good a catch-and-throw guy,” said Northeastern University coach Mike Glavine. “He’s as good as we’ve had here in a while. Josh handles the pitching staff very well and is an outstanding leader. He’s a tireless worker and his offensive game continues to improve..”
B.C.’s Pandelena off to solid start
Atkinson, N.H.’s Nick Pandelena showed signs recently that he’s close to breaking out on the Boston College golf team. During a recent break, the former St. John’s Prep standout recently spent four days in San Diego and got some new Titleist equipment before heading up to Oregon to meet with his B.C. teammates where they played at the beautiful Bandon Dunes Golf Resort and then later for a tournament at Pacific Dunes.
“We had a good first couple days and we were just one shot behind 16th-ranked Washington,” said Pandelena, a sophomore, who shot a 3-under 68 on the opening day of the tournament followed by a 4-over 76 the second day, tied for ninth overall.
“But we had a really tough last day,” said Pandelena, who shot an 83 in the last round. “I still feeling good about my game, though, so I am not too worried.”
Pandelena and B.C. left on Friday to play at Kingsmill Resort in William & Mary’s Invitational.
The team heads to Rochester, N.Y. to play at the famed Oak Hill Country Club, which has hosted U.S. Opens, Ryder Cup and the 2013 PGA Championship, for Notre Dame’s event.
“Then just after that we have A.C.C. Touranment at Old North State Golf Club in North Carolina,” said Pandelena. “Then we are done for the season. It goes by fast.”