The puzzle pieces are finally starting to fit into place, and Evan Christopulos couldn’t be happier with the results.
Oh, what a difference a year can make.
As a freshman at Bentley last spring, the former Andover High hurler didn’t have his best stuff. In 10 appearances, he had an 0-2 record and an 8.03 ERA, struggling to make the adjustment to the next level.
But Christopulos isn’t one to doubt his talent — and with good reason.
He didn’t complain when success didn’t come easy. He didn’t quit.
No, he kept his confidence high, and dedicated himself to getting better — and get better he did.
“I’ve been figuring out a lot of stuff recently,” said Christopulos, hours before taking the hill with the Nashua Silver Knights in the Future’s Collegiate Baseball League. “Everyone is always talking about mechanics, but I think a lot of (success) comes from you being your own pitching coach out there. You just have to find the most efficient route for yourself as a pitcher.”
This spring, as a sophomore at Bentley, Christopulos tossed 50.1 total innings (nearly double his total as a freshman) and finished with a 4-1 record with a save. His win total and innings pitched were both good for third on the team, and his 3.22 ERA was second among pitchers who threw more than 20.0 innings.
“In the beginning (of the season) I was anxious just to get out there,” said the 6-foot-2, 185-pound right-hander. “Everyone competes against each other, but we all compete as a team. And knowing that my coach and my teammates all believed in me enough to have me throw that amount of innings gave me a ton of confidence.”
Christopulos transformed into a new man on the mound ... and that hasn’t stopped this summer.
The Silver Knights are getting their turn to check out Christopulos’ stuff, and they’ve liked what they’ve seen. Heading into Saturday’s game against the Brockton Rox, he was third on the team in innings pitched (27.1) while adding a 3.29 ERA, a 3-3 record and 28 strikeouts.
Could a spot in the league’s upcoming All-Star game be next?
“Maybe,” he laughed. “That would be fun.”
There’s the “infamous radar gun” that flashes a pitcher’s velocity on the scoreboard at Nashua’s Holman Stadium. This summer, it’s clocked Christopulos at touching 94 miles per hour with his fastball twice, but “people say it’s a bit juiced,” he laughed.
“I’d say I’m consistently between 88-91 (mph),” said Christopulos, who also throws a two-seam fastball, a curveball and a changeup.
But spend just two minutes talking with him, and it’s easy to see how cerebral Christopulos is when on the mound. When describing each pitch type, he spoke at length about what situations and to what type of batter he throws each one.
So what comes next for the resurgent hurler?
Well, same as it has been for the past year: just keep getting better.
“Going into my junior season, I want to get more innings pitched,” said Christopulos. “Everybody has the dream of playing baseball as long as they can. That’s kind of my mindset, to keep playing and to keep improving every day.
“Just believing in yourself goes a long way.”
SMARTS TO BURN, TOO
Andover’s Evan Christopulos isn’t just a tactician on the mound for Bentley. He’s also a top scholar.
The economics and finance major earned a one-third academic scholarship to the school after he scored an impressive 1,510 out of 1,600 on his SAT in high school.
“I’m doing my best to uphold that scholarship,” said Christopulos. “I’m doing my best to be a better student first. Keeping my grades up is the main goal, then athletics.
“It’s funny, when I was younger my mindset was always to get a scholarship off of sports. That’s what I worked hard for, to get one for baseball. My world sort of got turned upside-down when I found out I got a third off for academics!”
Andover’s Evan Christopulos isn’t the only local athlete playing for the Nashua Silver Knights of the Future’s League this summer.
NAME HOMETOWN HS COLLEGE
Alex Lane Andover St. John’s Prep Bryant
Joe Bramanti No. Andover No. Andover Maine
Noah Lucier Sandown Central Catholic Stonehill
George Welch Derry Pinkerton St. Joseph’s (Maine)