BRISTOL - Bristol Blues pitcher Matt Shane is trying to earn a spot in the CCSU baseball teamâ€™s regular starting rotation next season.Â
On Monday night, the left hander made a good case for why he should be given the opportunity with the Blue Devils. In his first start for Bristol this summer, Shane delivered five solid innings, allowing just one earned run on five hits to go along with one walk and five strikeouts, to pick up the win in an 8-2 victory over the Nashua Silver Knights.
â€śHopefully I can find myself in a routine in the rotation,â€ť Shane said. â€śThatâ€™s my goal - to work my tail off to earn a spot.â€ť
The five innings of work equaled Shaneâ€™s longest outings this past season as a sophomore at CCSU. Shane was a reliever as a freshman, and that was his main role in 2019 as well. But he did make four midweek starts for the Blues Devils in the spring, throwing four innings in two of the starts and five innings in the other two as part of a 3-3 record with a 4.45 ERA and 15 strikeouts.
Heâ€™s had a similar role with the Blues this summer. Mostly used as a reliever, Shane has the teamâ€™s third-lowest ERA (1.92) and has racked up 11 strikeouts in 14 innings. Itâ€™s possible he will get another start for Bristol in the next few weeks, though he will still be relied upon as a reliever.Â
â€śWeâ€™ll try to get him a couple more starts, but weâ€™re also gonna keep using him out of the pen,â€ť Blues manager Ronnie Palmer said. â€śObviously, with the 12-day stretch we have, we thought it was a good idea to slide him into one. He might get another one by the time the 12 days are up. Itâ€™s something weâ€™ll always look at and see whatâ€™s in the best interest of him and in the best interest of the organization as well.â€ť
Shane made a spot start Monday night due to the teamâ€™s need for another reliable arm during the stretch of 12 games in 12 days that began Friday and was worsened by the loss of starter Jack Moore for the summer to injury, and an injury to starter Ken Turner that has lingered.Â
But Shaneâ€™s outing was what the Blues needed, giving the team an opportunity to give the bullpen and other guys some rest. That included four of his five strikeouts coming at opportune times, as the left hander was able to strand Nashua runners in scoring position with all four of those punch outs.Â
â€śAny time you have guys you can put out on the mound that you trust to throw strikes, thatâ€™s important. Shane has done that for us this whole summer,â€ť Palmer said. â€śAny time you have a starter to get us deeper into the game, it shortens what we have to do on the backside as far as what we do in our bullpen.â€ť
Perhaps Shaneâ€™s solid outing can be attributed to being slotted back into his more comfortable starterâ€™s spot that he excelled at in high school at Bacon Academy.Â
â€śI love the mentality of a starter,â€ť Shane said. â€śItâ€™s almost like youâ€™re going to war against these guys. Itâ€™s a lot different than coming out of the [bull]pen. For me, youâ€™re not necessarily as engaged. Itâ€™s hard, for me at least. Some people have the knack for it. But Iâ€™m willing to compete any time Iâ€™m given an opportunity.â€ť
Zack Carpenter can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org