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.”
DiSalvo, stopper or not, remains a breath of fresh air. While the competition is great, and he loves pitching, he will at some point turn the page into a pretty bright future.
The National Honor Society student with a 3.8 GPA and an 1,800 on his SAT will head down to UConn next year, not to pitch but to study the actuarial sciences.
“I want to be an actuary,” said DiSalvo, explaining out of necessity to this reporter that an actuary deals in statistics, mainly in the insurance industry.
Still, there is baseball to be played first. The Knights are 3-6, and with the Sullivan Rule or without, are intent on making the postseason.
“I think we’re definitely going to put it together,” he said.
DiSalvo says so with his experience on the mound and in the actuarial sciences. Who would be crazy enough to doubt him?
North Andover senior righty Jake DiSalvo outpitched Haverhill's Matt Burns in an 80-minute, no-walk, pitching clinic. Burns, who knocked in Ryan Perez (triple) with the Hillies only run in the sixth, deserved a better fate on the mound. The junior spaced nine hits and allowed only two earned runs. :Scalding Senior: Knight Tyler Whitley went 3 for 4 with an RBI, raising his average on the year to .379 with nine RBIs. Watch the freshman: Going 2 for 4 with an RBI, North Andover newcomer Brendan Parisotto made it 5 for 14 in the early going. He's going to be a good one. Hillies hanging tough: Ryan Perez tripled and singled for Haverhill, scoring the Hillies only run. Haverhill falls to 4-3 in the MVC small, just one game behind leader Billerica.