By DAVE O’SULLIVAN
“What if I told you … that every pitcher dreams of getting an at-bat? Of stepping into the batter’s box and hitting a high, arching home run. That every pitcher wants to be a hitting hero. What if I told you?”
Austin Blumetti, a senior left-handed relief pitcher for the Mainland Regional baseball team, dreams about getting a high school at-bat. So much so that his longing to step into the batter’s box might just be the intro to his senior documentary film, which he is modeling after the popular ESPN series “30 for 30.”
“He’s very personable and funny. He’s actually right in the middle of his senior documentary of the life of a pitcher. He’s getting a lot of footage right now at practice on doing the buckets, band work, ab workouts, running — a lot of the drills we do,” said Mustangs coach Billy Kern. “He told me his tag line to start the movie is going to be, ‘what if I told you, you would play your entire high school baseball career and never get an at-bat?’ He was actually on deck once this year and the kid ahead of him made the last out and the dugout went nuts. He’s pulling for some blowouts in the future so he can get his shot, otherwise he might have to wait until Senior Day.”
“I’m doing sort of a 30 for 30 about the life of a pitcher. It’s kind of a spoof,” Blumetti explained. “It was sort of the only thing I could think of for baseball being part of my documentary. Somebody gave me the idea of trying to do sort of a 30 for 30, and I thought it would be something different.”
Chances are, Blumetti will get an ‘A’ on his senior project. The GPA of this edition’s Old Cape Recycling Scholar Athlete is at 3.9, but if you factor in the weighted honors classes, that number jumps to 5.1. He’s already committed to the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, which is not an easy college to get into by any means. He plans to continue his baseball career — which is now beginning to take off after he broke into the lineup as a reliever last spring — and continue his studies toward a degree in pharmacy.
“I’m really excited for that. It’s definitely going to be a challenge for me,” Blumetti said. “I thought it was a really good place and I could make an impact early on the baseball team, plus it had what I was looking for with the pharmacy program. So, I thought it was a good fit. I know some people who do (pharmacy work) and I’ve always been interested in chemistry and biology.”
“He’s a great student. University of the Sciences is a tough school to get into, and he’s interested in pursuing pharmacy,” Kern said. “It’s a tough school, but I’m happy he’s going to be at a place where academically he’ll have a chance to get a great degree and also pursue baseball.”
Blumetti has been a key reason why the Mustangs jumped out to a 6-2 start and, as of April 24, had the lead in the Cape-Atlantic League’s National Conference at 5-1. Kern said he’s been a reliable option to close out a game when the Mustangs have a late lead.
“It’s definitely been a huge jump from last year,” Blumetti said of his contributions to the team. “I’m really excited about how this season is going, the team is hitting well and has been almost flawless defensively.”
“He was in relief a little bit last year, spot innings here and there, but had a great summer. He put on some weight, got stronger, and solidified himself as our top option out of the bullpen this year. He’s got a little bit of a quirky delivery, can command multiple pitches and holds runners on well. So he gives you everything you’re looking for out of the bullpen,” Kern said. “He throws about 79-81 mph and has a nice change-up. But he also has a high leg kick and hides the ball well. A lot of times, I think the ball gets on hitters a lot faster than maybe what the radar gun is saying.”
Blumetti was a freshman in 2014 when the Mustangs went on a magical postseason run that was capped with a Group 3 state championship, and he said he’s hoping this year’s squad can make another deep run in the state playoffs.
“It was really cool watching the state championship game my freshman year, and now I have the opportunity to be on the same field. That gives us motivation,” he said.
“He’s been lights out for us out of the bullpen for us this season. We’ve been pairing him up with Anthony Capasso’s starts. People just don’t seem to square him up. He moves the ball around so well. Balls get put in play, but nobody really hits the ball that hard off of him,” Kern said. “He’s worked really hard, probably put on about 15 pounds since last season. I’m just happy to see his progress. He seems so much more relaxed this season with the college commitment out of the way. He’s just enjoying himself and doing a nice job for us.”
Blumetti said the demands of his school work as well as all the baseball haven’t been easy for him throughout his high school career, but that he always seems to find a way to get the job done.
“It can be really tough, but I guess it kind of puts me on my own schedule and I know when I have to crack down and get my work done. All of the teachers are usually available at lunch, so if I’m struggling a little bit I’ll go see them then, or before school,” Blumetti said. “My parents have always been really supportive. My dad always took me to the field to do extra work when I was young, and I guess that’s carried over.”
That work ethic has made him one of the top relievers in the league this season, and he knows that will be his role heading into May and, hopefully, June. But, if Kern ever calls on him to bat, he said he’s ready.
“I hit a couple of bombs in BP the other day,” he said, “so if I get an at-bat I might have to swing for the fences.”
Contact Dave O’Sullivan: firstname.lastname@example.org; on Twitter @GDsullysays
By DAVE O’SULLIVAN