When it comes to being flexible as a pitcher, Alfredo Aceves has nothing on former Pentucket standout Corey McNamara.
As a freshman at St. Joseph’s College this past spring, McNamara was — with a wealth of starting pitchers — moved to the bullpen to become the team’s closer.
McNamara had never been used in that role, but he adjusted beautifully. He pitched in a team-high 17 games for the Monks (31-14 and league champions) and had a fine 2.76 ERA. He had three saves and batters hit just .200 against him.
After the season, St. Joseph’s coach Will Sanborn pondered moving McNamara back to a starter next year, so when Newburyport Legion Post 150 needed a starter, he was up for the challenge.
Switching back to multiple innings at a time took a few weeks but, to say the least, McNamara made a smooth adjustment, so much so that he’s been one of the best pitchers in District 8.
Through last week, he had given up just two earned runs all summer, for an ERA of 0.47, with 22 strikeouts in 30 innings.
“He’s been a great addition to the staff this year,” said Post 150 coach Tim Southall. “He worked very hard to turn himself (back) into a starter. He’s a great kid who loves to compete.”
In one memorable three-game stretch, he beat Danvers 1-0, threw nine innings in a scoreless tie with Lynn and followed with a 2-0 shutout of Lawrence, giving him 23 scoreless innings.
“I’ve just been throwing good pitches, mixing it up ... plus, we’ve been getting good defense,” he said.
Moving back to a starter was no problem, but the switch in the spring to closer took some getting used to.
“It was different and it took awhile to adjust,” said McNamara. “But they have a good strength program (at St. Joseph’s) that helped a lot. By the end of the year, my arm felt good. It felt like it did at the beginning.”
Now that he has proven his worth as both a reliever and a starter, which does McNamara like more?
“I don’t have a preference,” he said. “It’s nice to be able to go (in relief) at any time and always be ready, but it’s nice to be a starter.”
Known more his basketball at Pentucket, where he was a 1,000-point scorer, Cape Ann League All-Star and Eagle-Tribune All-Star. He is also the son of Pentucket girls basketball coach John McNamara and the brother of former Sachem star Erin McNamara and current standout Kelsi.
But Corey didn’t have as much success on the hardcourt for the Monks. On a 17-10 team, McNamara appeared in just six games, averaging just two minutes per game. But, far from being discouraged, the bench time motivated him to work harder.
This summer, while not pitching for the Nor’Easters, McNamara is playing on a summer league hoop team while working out regularly with two different programs, alternating between conditioning, various drills and shooting.
“Hopefully, I’m getting better ... I think I am,” said McNamara. “I just have to get stronger and prove myself.”
As to which sport he likes best, McNamara can’t choose. His recent success on the diamond hasn’t swayed him.
“I’ve always liked both sports and I like them about the same,” he said.