Two gems on the mound
Two years ago, Buckingham, Browne & Nichols baseball coach Rick Foresteire took one look at Andrew Chin, a freshman lefthander, and said to his assistant coaches, “Well, we know we’ll be in the title hunt for the next four’’ years.
A year later, Devin Perry arrived on campus from Tampa, via Newton North, and BB&N had a pair of talented young arms on a pair of teens from two villages in Newton.
This season, the two juniors are propelling the Knights to unprecedented territory, with two very distinct styles.
Perry is an overpowering righthander whose fastball has touched the low 90s. As a freshman at Tampa Prep, he was playing in the field on the varsity squad. He arrived at BB&N last season from Newton North and has been dominant on the hill this spring: a 6-0 record, with 66 strikeouts and a 0.37 earned run average in 38 innings pitched.
Chin, according to a number of folks on the school’s Cambridge campus, is pretty old school. He has a tireless work ethic in the weight room, he wears his heart on his sleeve, and he never ices his arm after games.
When Foresteire tells him to go run, Chin doesn’t just take a lap around the campus; he heads out to the Charles River and follows the banks for a few miles. Some days, the coach has to tell him to stop throwing.
His emotional demeanor on an otherwise calm team stands to empower, not anchor, the Knights, who improved to 16-0 following a win over St. George’s last Wednesday.
Perry brings the heat on the mound and can provide power from the plate (.404, 16 RBIs, two home runs). Chin does not throw as hard, but has delivered almost identical pitching numbers: 5-0, 67 strikeouts, 0.74 ERA, 38 innings pitched.
Both committed to Boston College two months apart this offseason — Chin in January, followed by Perry — and for the same reasons. The allure of offers from Georgia Tech, Virginia, Michigan, South Florida, and Southern California were nice, but in Chestnut Hill they feel they can make a more immediate impact.
“We’re blessed right now, and I’ve always said great pitchers can make great coaches,’’ said Foresteire.
“And then to have a Division 1 college-caliber catcher (Alex Farkes, who is headed to Penn State), I call very few, if any pitches.’’
Do they ever shake off a sign from their senior rock behind the plate.
“When they do, something bad happens,’’ said Farkes. “But they trust me. And you know, when they do shake me off, they have a reason for it. Especially Chin, if he wants something he really believes in it, and I’ll throw it down.’’
Ask the two about themselves, and Perry answered, “we should describe the other person, I think.’’
The compliments are glowing.
Perry on Chin: “His balls have some life to them. Does it go down or does it just tail a ton? . . . Regardless, he’s going to have probably four inches plus of life on his ball. I know as a righty that’s just annoying.’’ He added: “His curveball is 10 times better this year.’’
Chin on Perry: “Devin can blow kids away when he needs to. He also has a really good changeup and curve that he can use as a primary pitch maybe when the other two aren’t working as well.’’
An American League scout who covers the area said “Andrew is a very competitive lefthanded pitcher who has distinguished himself as one of the top pitchers in the Northeast. One thing about him is he can really pitch.’’
He added that Perry is “tremendously athletic, a projectible kid who has a lot of potential. He does things very easy. He really needs to get stronger and develop as an actual baseball player, but the tools are certainly there.’’
“You can’t really predict what the talent level’s going to be. Sometimes, it’s luck,’’ Manguso said. “You try to have a good program and try to do things the right way, and hopefully things work out. Some day [the streak will stop], but as long as the person in charge — me or anyone else — is working as hard as they can there is no shame in that. You just do it, and try to do it as well as you can.’’
The catalyst at the top of the rotation is senior Jack Murray, who has battled diligently since hurling a no-hitter in his varsity debut two years ago. Last Monday was another step. He pitched his second no-hitter, fanning nine batters and walking one, as the Hawks beat Wachusett Regional 2-0.
Crafty lefthanders can do a number on high school batters if they demonstrate control over their arsenal.
“He’s always been determined,’’ Manguso said. “There are going to be times when something is a ball and something is a strike; that’s just how it is. You have to adjust. The question is do you have the command to give a guy what he wants. He has, and that’s been the biggest difference — not his velocity, not his off-speed, but his command.’’
“I think he’s the best pitcher in our league, and maybe the best pitcher in our district.’’
Brendan Hall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.