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    Monday, July 22, 2024

    It’s all about location for Driscoll and the Schooners

    Dan Driscoll of Waterford pitches in a game for Eastern Connecticut State in 2023. (Photo courtesy of ECSU athletics)

    Wakefield, R.I. — Location is important to pitcher Dan Driscoll.

    Driscoll is difficult to hit when he keeps the ball low in the strike zone and paints the corners.

    His statistics compiled while playing the past two seasons for the Eastern Connecticut State University baseball team back that up.

    Driscoll has an impressive ratio of 167 strikeouts to 33 walks in 28 appearances for the Warriors. He’s given up 122 hits and 52 earned runs in 134.2 innings.

    Location is also important to the Waterford High School graduate when it comes to playing summer baseball.

    Growing up in southeastern Connecticut, Driscoll knew all about the Mystic Schooners, a member of the New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL). As a 12-year-old, he took pitching lessons from Dennis Long, who is Mystic’s pitching coach.

    Long wanted to add Driscoll to the Schooner roster last summer but the Waterford resident needed rest after throwing 75.1 innings for Eastern in 2023.

    Driscoll didn’t have the same issue this summer.

    “It’s been two years in the making,’’ Long said. “He earned it. We were happy to get him. A good lefty that can throw strikes is invaluable.”

    Driscoll is thrilled to be playing for the Schooners.

    “It’s surreal,” said Driscoll before Mystic faced Ocean State Thursday at Old Mountain Field. “I enjoy every day going to the field. It’s fun that I’m playing in the summer again but now I’m playing for this team. I looked up to these guys and now I’m able to play with them. It’s pretty fun.”

    Driscoll has made a successful transition from pitching on the Division III level to competing against Division I talent in the NECBL.

    In three starts, Driscoll is 1-0 with a 2.25 earned run average, allowing 10 hits in 16 innings while striking out 13 and walking two.

    When asked about the reason behind his impressive start, Driscoll pointed to his ability to locate his pitches.

    “I’m just throwing strikes,” Driscoll said. “My goal is to fill it up and it’s worked out for me. That’s just been my whole mentality. … I’ve played for some really good coaches that just emphasize throwing strikes and getting that first pitch strike.

    “Getting ahead of guys, it’s a game-changer, especially at this level. I’ve given up more hits when I’ve been behind in counts than ahead in counts.”

    In his most recent performance, the 6-foot, 195-pound lefthander tamed Newport Wednesday, earning a no-decision in a 2-1 loss. He went six innings, allowing a run and three hits while striking out four and not issuing a walk.

    He’s gone at least five innings in all three starts. He won’t blow anyone away with his fastball, but he can mesmerize batters with his pinpoint command.

    “He’s always around the plate,” Mystic manager Phil Orbe said. “He’s been very good for us. … He just really bulldogged it for us (on Wednesday). He’s doing very well for himself in the league.”

    After starting out at Mitchell College, Driscoll transferred to Eastern. He had a special first season with the Warriors, earning first team All-Region and first team All-Little East Conference honors after posting an 8-4 record with a 2.63 earned run average in 2023.

    Last spring, Driscoll (4-3, 4.55) helped Eastern qualify for the NCAA Division III tournament. He led the team with 80 strikeouts in 59.1 innings.

    “It definitely didn’t go as I wanted it or like previous years for me, but I tried to make the most of it,” Driscoll said. “I’ve got one more year (at Eastern). I’m trying to make the most of it this summer and get back to where I know I can play at.”

    So far, so good for Driscoll.

    He continues to mature and develop as a pitcher. He says his left arm is in great shape.

    He hopes to finish his Eastern career next spring by winning a national championship.

    But, right now, he’s focused on throwing strikes and enjoying summer baseball.

    “I love coming to the ballpark every day,” Driscoll said. “Even if I’m not throwing, I just want to come and be around the team. This is a good group of guys and we mesh pretty well.”

    g.keefe@theday.com

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