METHUEN — After an unfulfilling year and a half at Stonehill, Cal Carroll decided it was time for a change.
He looked in the mirror and saw a pitcher. The Chieftain coaches saw an outfielder ... and probably a reserve outfielder.
The former Eagle-Tribune Athlete of the Year at Methuen High transferred in January to Suffolk and he’s almost giddy about it.
“It’s a huge change but I love it,” he said.
His grades are up (3.2 GPA last semester) and he pitched like he did in his days with the Rangers. The sophomore reliever went 3-0 with 3 saves, a 4.31 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 31.1 innings to help the Rams to a 29-14 season.
“I was a set-up guy so I was in a ton of close situations,” explained Carroll. “That’s what I live for.”
He didn’t live for being a reserve outfielder, which he was as a freshman at Stonehill, where he struggled at the plate (3 for 20) in his limited at-bats.
“Honestly, Stonehill wasn’t the best fit for me,” he said. “I wanted to continue pitching. It wasn’t in the cards for me. Suffolk totally has been a better fit. I’m really happy where I am.”
So is Suffolk.
“We didn’t know what to expect,” said Rams head coach Cary McConnell, who has only had three mid-year transfers in his 18 seasons at the Boston school. “I couldn’t quantify how big a competitor he is. He’s a bulldog on the mound. He wants the ball. He just got better and better and we used him more and more.”
To the point where he set a school record for pitching appearances in a season.
“We’re obviously always looking for arms and he fit the ball,” said McConnell. “I can’t say enough good things about him.”
One of the greatest football players in Methuen history, the ex-quarterback still loves the sport but didn’t give much consideration to switching sports.
“It’s in the rearview mirror,” said Carroll, whose mother, Colleen, works nearby at the State House. “Same with basketball, which I play every day. I know I’ll come back to football, probably in coaching. But baseball has been my thing since I was a little kid.”
And his favorite part of the game is pitching.
“They (the Chieftain coaches) didn’t see me as a pitcher and that’s what I wanted to do,” he said. “I knew I still have a ton of arm in me. I just wanted to keep throwing. I’m really happy with the decision I made.”
This summer Carroll is pitching for the Watertown Reds of the Intercity League and doing side jobs for his father’s company Airex Filter Corp.
Suffolk’s local players
Other area Ram baseball players are sophomore Dan Shields of Haverhill and Central Catholic (2-1, 13 Ks, 19.1 innings), sophomore Adam Johnson of Georgetown (.318, 12 runs, 10 RBIs), junior Jonathan Richard of North Reading and Austin Prep (6-1, 3.40, 33 Ks, 55.2 innings) and sophomore Paul Pollano of North Andover (3 Ks, 5 innings).
Follow Michael Muldoon on Twitter under the screen name @MullyET.
Carroll's Season Record Saves ERA Ks Innings Appearances 3-0 3 4.31 22 31.1 *18 * School record