HAVERHILL — At a time when his senior mates are checking out of high school by the hour, Jake DiSalvo will waltz to the finish line.
This is his time.
“I’ve waited patiently for this,” said the North Andover High right-hander after stifling Haverhill, 3-1, in an 80-minute, no-walk, five-hitter.
“It’s my time. I’m a pitcher, and I’m looking to carry this team as the No. 1 starter.”
No athlete in the region can claim to be more patient than DiSalvo, who is finally impacting in his 12th and final athletic season at the high school.
There is no tomorrow.
DiSalvo, who made the varsity last year, barely dirtied his cleats as the Knights rolled a couple blue-chippers in Brandon Walsh and Tyler Leavitt to the hill regularly.
“I was the No. 4, and you just don’t see much time as a No. 4 starter,” said DiSalvo. “You can understand why I was really looking forward to senior year.”
DiSalvo looked around the gym in the preseason this year and saw little but opportunity.
North Andover didn’t return a pitcher with a win. And he threw strikes, fastball and curveball, with regularity.
He wasn’t Walsh or Leavitt, Mike Weisman or Aaron Brunette.
But he was, and is, a pitcher.
“I tried not to think about the guys I might be replacing,” said DiSalvo. “I just thought about the pitcher I could be, myself.”
So far, so good. DiSalvo is off to a 2-1 start for the Knights with a 3.29 ERA as they attack the Merrimack Valley Conference for the first time. Not a power pitcher, he has now fanned 18 in 27.2 innings.
“He’s been excellent for us,” said North Andover coach Todd Dulin, admiring yesterday’s mound sparkler in a serious pressure spot. The Knights, 2-6 coming in, simply couldn’t afford another loss. “He’s got two of our wins and had some bad luck, too. I probably took him out too early against Methuen (4-2, 8-inning loss) and he got no help behind him against a pretty good lineup against Billerica.”