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Schooners are happy to have Waterford's Burrows back

Norwich — Jared Burrows started his 2022 baseball season off with a masterpiece.

Back on Feb. 19, Burrows limited No. 12 East Carolina to three hits and one run in five innings while striking out five and not issuing a walk in his first start for Bryant University, which ended up winning in extra innings in Greenville, N.C.

But Burrows, a former Waterford High School standout, never duplicated that mound magic.

It was a rocky ride for Burrows, a sophomore righthander who finished the season with an 0-5 record and a 9.60 earned run average in 13 appearances, making eight starts.

Burrows is aiming to find a nice groove this summer playing for Mystic Schooners for the second straight year in the New England Collegiate Baseball League. He's pitched well so far, throwing four scoreless innings, striking out five, walking three and going 1-0 in three appearances out of the bullpen prior to Tuesday's game against Valley.

He attributed his struggles at Bryant — his first season there after transferring from Hartford — to some mechanical problems. He took it as a learning experience.

"It was tough," Burrows said on Tuesday at Dodd Stadium. "I did make some progress near the end even though the stats didn't necessarily show that. I feel a lot better now mechanically. I think I can get right back to where I was, if not better."

Last year, Burrows was one of Mystic's most reliable relievers. He posted a 2.84 earned run average, walking 10 and striking out 26 in 19 innings.

"He pitched well for us," Mystic pitching coach Dennis Long said. "We were happy to get him back. We thought he was going to the Cape (Cod League). When his season took a little bit of a tailspin, I think the Cape was not an option. We told him that we'd love to have him back. So, it's worked out well for us.

"Just being near home must help, too. He looks loose, comfortable and he's throwing hard. The command of his pitches is great, so I'm excited."

Burrows had a highly-successful high school career, with the highlight being pitching a three-hitter in Waterford's 1-0 upset of top-seeded Berlin in the 2019 Class L state championship game. It was the Lancers' second title in three years. He was named the Connecticut Gatorade Player of the Year.

But Division I baseball has been a battle for Burrows.

As a freshman at Hartford, Burrows saw limited action, going 1-1 with a 11.88 earned run average in 8.1 innings.

Burrows hasn't had much luck since transferring to Bryant. But he remains confident in his ability.

"I know I have the work ethic and I know I can work out of it and get back to where I was before," Burrows said.

This summer, Burrows plans to continue to work on his mechanics and consistency as well as have a better feel for all his pitches in every outing.

His even-keel demeanor serves him well as a pitcher, according to manager Phil Orbe.

"His arm plays, it's just a matter of getting him to understand the idea of making adjustments, which is not always easy to do," Orbe said. "Jared is the type of kid if he strikes out three guys on 10 pitches or gives up three home runs, he's the same guy in the dugout  which is really, really good. It's admirable. It's something that we hope a lot of guys are like.

"But, sometimes you need to make that adjustment. He has to learn to make the adjustment on his own. He's going to be fine for us."

For now, Burrows' role will be as a reliever. He doesn't have a strict innings limit because of his light workload in the spring with Bryant.

"They seem to like to use me in the back end of the game," Burrows said. "But I've talked to them a little bit and I'm hoping to get some starts later this summer. ... I definitely have a lot of room to throw a lot and I'd like to throw a decent amount this summer."

Burrows will be regularly tested by the hitters in the NECBL. The league is loaded with Division I players.

He welcomes the challenge.

"It gets you better," Burrows said. "It's easy to go play against competition that's below you and just dominate it and have a good time. If that's what you want to do, I'm not opposed to it. Personally, I'm trying to work hard and get better. And playing against really good competition in the NECBL is what's going to help me."

Burrows has the added benefit of living at home during the summer.

"It's nice to live at home and spend time with my family on off-days," Burrows said. "They love watching baseball so they can come watch me play."

News and notes

This is Mystic's first season playing at Dodd Stadium after Fitch High School served as the home of the Schooners. "It's different here at Dodd than it was at Fitch," Burrows said. "Personally, I like the change, just to play in a stadium setting." ... Mystic's roster continues to evolve, as five more players reported to the team Tuesday, including Stonington graduate Kevin Ferrer (UConn). "He'll help us out at the plate," Orbe said. "We're excited to have him." ... Ledyard grad Ken Turner (Bryant) will likely be ready to join the pitching staff by the first week of July. He's been rehabbing his injured shoulder. "I saw him today," Long said. "He's feeling confident and feeling great." ... Burrows on his cousin Mike's recent promotion to Indianapolis, the Class AAA team of the Pittsburgh Pirates: "It's awesome."

g.keefe@theday.com

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