Garvey stands tall for first-place Skipjacks
Coach Szymanski lauds sophomore who ’wants the ball’
WYE MILLS At 5-foot-6 and 150 pounds, Chesapeake College pitcher Jake Garvey believed many would never view him as the prototypical college baseball pitcher. He nearly let that conviction drive him out of the game he loves.
"Last fall I thought about quitting baseball," said Garvey, who played his high school baseball at North Dorchester High. "My height was a big issue I didn’t know if I’d get looked at by other colleges. Then I sat down and thought about it and realized I wanted to keep playing. Ever since then I’ve been happier than ever (playing baseball)."
Garvey has been standing tall this spring for the Skipjacks, anchoring a pitching staff that has helped Chesapeake hold on to first place in the Maryland Junior College Athletic Conference two-thirds of the way through the league season.
Garvey’s height is no concern to Skipjacks head coach Frank Szymanski, who instead likes to talk about the size of Garvey’s heart.
"He wants the ball no matter whether it’s starting, middle relief or closer," said Szymanski of Garvey. "He wants to pitch in situations where some guys don’t want to pitch."
Garvey is currently 3-2 with an impressive 2.25 earned-run average for the 23-9 Skipjacks, who are 14-5 in Maryland JuCo. While he’s spent most of the season as a starter, Garvey has also logged two huge saves in the last two weeks.
Garvey’s first save came in a 6-5 win over the College of Southern Maryland, with the right-hander getting the final two outs with the tying and winning runs on base. He also saved Monday’s 8-7 win over Region XIX power Delaware Tech, getting the final out with the tying run on third.
"My adrenaline gets pumping and I’m ready to go," said Garvey about pitching in high-pressure situations.
"He’s been consistent the whole year," said Szymanski. "Every game so far, we’ve been in the game with chances to win."
Szymanski had expected to use Garvey on the mound extensively last season, but that plan went awry when second baseman Mathieu Vallieres suffered an early, season-ending injury.
"Last year I just wanted to play ball I didn’t care what I was playing as long as I was on the field," said Garvey.
"We wanted him to pitch for us last year, but he had to fill in at second, short and third for us when Mathieu got hurt," recalled Szymanski. "He really didn’t get an opportunity to pitch for us until down the stretch last year. We knew he had the good arm, the courage and the poise, and he’s shown that this year."
Garvey started on the mound in two critical games down the stretch last season, finishing 2-0, and then went 10-1 on the mound last summer playing for the Cambridge American Legion team.
"Once I got my chance to pitch, I just wanted to show him (Szymanski) how well I could do so I could keep on pitching," said Garvey. "I was hoping to be one of the top two pitchers this year. I’ve been trying to give him everything I have."
Garvey’s best has been more than enough for Szymanski.
"He’s shown he has command of three pitches," said Szymanski. "He also has courage and he’s very dedicated. Jake is very coachable and works very hard."
Garvey said this season, in which the Skipjacks have a real shot at the college’s first-ever state baseball title, has been very rewarding.
"It’s great everybody is out to get us," said Garvey with a laugh. "Everyone gives us a run for our money. We’re out there bringing our ’A’ game every game."
Garvey said his academic experience at Chesapeake has been every bit as good as his athletic experience.
"It’s been everything I thought it would be," said Garvey, who is currently leaning toward Salisbury University as his next destination and hopes to play for the Sea Gulls. "I like that Chesapeake’s close to home. All of the teachers are nice and everyone really tries to help you out."
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