Joe Morin, pure and simple, has always been a solid hitter.
Since his days at Salem High School, playing Legion ball, through four years at St. Anselm and then in his early years with the Kingston Night Owls, he’s been consistently near or above .300.
But what the 25-year-old Moran is doing this year borders on incredible. Through 18 games, he is hitting an astounding North Shore Baseball League-leading .551 and leads the league with 24 RBIs. He has only struck out four times all year.
One category in which Morin is lagging a bit this year is walks (only 12) which, because of a keen eye for balls and strikes, he usually has more of than anyone in the league.
“I’ve never seen anyone with such a command of the strike zone,” said Night Owls coach Paul Sartori. “He is so patient and takes what is given to him.
“In batting practice, I can throw him nine straight pitches over the plate that he’ll swing at but, if the 10th is an inch off the plate, he won’t swing.
“The way he’s hitting is unbelievable. And even when he makes an out, they’re on hard-hit balls.”
So has Morin become more of a free swinger this year? Not at all. He still believes that patience is a virtue and largely attributes the rise in hits and dip in walks to a change in the batting order.
“Hitting second instead of the middle of the order has helped,” he said. “Pitchers are forced to pitch to me because I have guys behind me (Nick Comei bats third, Mike Borrelli fourth) who can protect me.”
Recently, the walks have increased for Morin as pitchers around the league have begun throwing to him more carefully and he’s willing to accept the free passes. As long as he gets on base, that’s what matters.
Morin’s discipline at the plate, and his ability to hit, is something he attributes greatly to his father, George.
“There is no way I would be successful without him,” said Morin, whose brother Dan stopped playing for the Night Owls this year after four seasons. “He’s been there from the beginning always pushing me to be better. He still pitches batting practice to me after work.
“He bought into the Ted Williams science of hitting, finding good quality pitches. He’s always had me be selective, get good counts, and force the pitcher to throw more in the zone.”
For his part, Sartori can’t explain Morin’s meteoric batting average. He prefers not to analyze it and just hopes it continues.
“I’d like to wave a magic wand and make sure he can keep it up,” said Sartori, whose club entered the week 17-1.
Staying above .500 may be difficult but rest assured that Morin will continue to hit and likely continue to walk. And, the good news for Sartori, is that he is not expecting to stop anytime soon.
“You love the game so much, it’s tough to give it up,” said Morin, who works for Raytheon. “The competitive nature is still there for me. Plus, being able to spend time with my father, even if it’s just batting practice, is a bonus.”
“There is no way I would be successful without him (father George Morin).”
Always a hitter
Now in his seventh season with the team, Salem’s Joe Morin has always been able to get on base and has been particularly productive during the Kingston Night Owls’ four North Shore Baseball League championships since 2014. Following are his batting averages year by year.
2013 -- .280
2014 -- .348
2015 -- .321
2016 -- .359
2017 -- .287
2018 -- .433
*2019 -- .551
* Through 18 games