|Steve Perakslis (Frannie Kloza/SportsPix)|
Six years later, turning it up a notch
Joe Flynn and Steve Perakslis, 15-year-old teammates on the 2005 AAU national champion Royals Baseball Academy, have been reunited this summer with the Wareham Gatemen of the Cape Cod Baseball League.
A two-time Globe Player of the Year at Plymouth North and MVP of the 2009 Division 2 state championship squad, the 6-foot-1, 215-pound Flynn had compiled a 1.64 earned run average in 11 innings of relief through last weekend.
Perakslis, primarily a setup man for the Gatemen who starred for his father, Steve, at Abington High and played on the 2009 Division 3 state champions, had struck out 14 batters in 12.2 innings with one save and a 3.55 ERA.
Both righthanders are entering their junior years of college, Flynn at Franklin Pierce University and Perakslis at the University of Maine.
“I’d love to have 20 Joe Flynns on my team,’’ said Gatemen manager Cooper Farris, whose coaching staff includes retired Wareham High baseball coach Darrell Maxwell, a longtime Middleborough resident.
“This is our second season with Joe and he’s a more polished pitcher than a year ago,’’ said Farris. “Steve can also be used as a closer, and he’s hit 94 on the radar gun. And coach Maxwell is just loved by our players, and personally I can’t wait until he’s with us every summer.’’
According to Terry Thompson, the team’s pitching coach, Flynn has been working on adding a cut fastball to his repertoire, a pitch that can move inside or outside, while Perakslis is seeking a “putaway pitch’’ to complement his fastball.
“Joe’s like a sponge when it comes to learning something new,’’ said Thompson, “and Steve can get to the next level with a second pitch. He’s worked very hard to do so.’’
Perakslis said he’s been working on both a split-finger fastball and changeup while pacing himself on the mound.
“I need to slow things up, I’ve been rushing a bit,’’ said the 6-1, 185-pound Perakslis, who was 4-4 with a 6.33 ERA at Maine last season, but had a stronger second half during the Black Bears run to the America East title and NCAA Division 1 Tournament.
“In this league, everyone I’m facing was a 2, 3, or 4 batter with the college team, so the experience has been awesome. I’ve never played at this level before and I think that’s made me turn it up a notch.’’
Perakslis, a perennial South Shore League All-Star and league MVP, was first coached by his father in Little League.
Flynn said that his friendship with Perakslis grew after the national AAU title game six years ago even though the two attended different high schools.
“It’s pretty cool that we both played on state championship teams, always rooted for one another, and now we’re trying to win a championship for Wareham,’’ said Flynn, who was 2-2 this season for Franklin Pierce with a 3.45 ERA and 29 strikeouts in 31 1/3 innings. The Ravens advanced to the NCAA Division 2 East Regional Tournament.
“I feel the adrenaline rush every inning I’m out there,’’ he added. “The PA announcer says the batter’s name and I’m thinking, `I saw that guy play in the College World series a few weeks ago.’ It’s an amazing feeling. I just try to throw the hell out of every pitch and learn from the experience.’’
Maxwell, now in his fifth season with the Gatemen, coaches first base, throws batting practice and works with the infielders. A Vermont native, he moved to Middleborough in 1972 after graduation from Lyndon State College and taught at Wareham High for 35 years.
“Right after my last season as baseball coach at the high school, there was an opening with the Gatemen,’’ he recalled, “and I hit it off with Cooper [Farris], and I’ve enjoyed working with the players. It’s been a win-win for all of us. At home games, the players remind me that I know just about everyone around the backstop.
“For some of these players, it’s their first time away from home, and sometimes it’s the first time they’ll experience failure. I just want them to feel they have someone in their corner aside from their families.’’
He said his reward is watching Wareham’s players improve and enjoy their experience. “That’s just so satisfying,’’ said the 61-year-old Maxwell. “I couldn’t ask for a better summer. It keeps me young.’’
Here and there Class of 2003 Sharon High grads Evan Lepler, radio announcer for the Salem (Va.)
Marvin Pave can be reached at email@example.com.