At 24, Bayuk a leader at BC
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Mike Gambino’s choice of Nate Bayuk to pitch the first inning of Boston College’s exhibition game against the Red Sox was a reward for the lefty’s dedication and perseverance.
“He gives us a steadying veteran presence, he’s dealt with adversity, and his poise out of the bullpen is just awesome,’’ said the BC coach, who watched Bayuk record a 1-2-3 inning that afternoon at JetBlue Park. “He just attacks both sides of the plate.’’
The next day, Feb. 22 at East Carolina, Bayuk, a graduate student whose 2010 season ended prematurely with major back surgery, set a program record with his 89th career appearance.
“I feel very blessed that I had the opportunity to play against the Red Sox with my parents, uncle, and two siblings in the stands. It’s something you hope to tell your kids about someday,’’ said Bayuk, who was second on the staff last season with 23 appearances out of the bullpen.
Bayuk, a team captain and MVP at Xaverian Brothers High in Westwood, was redshirted in 2008. His 32 games in relief the following year — when the Eagles played their epic 25-inning game (a 3-2 loss) against Texas in the NCAA Tournament — is a BC record.
“After the spinal fusion, which was more complicated because the disc was shattered, there was a better chance that I wouldn’t be able to come back,’’ said Bayuk, who was a medical redshirt that season.
“But I was able to get through it. Things happen for a reason and now I’m 24, I’ve been with the program for six seasons, and I really enjoy and appreciate showing up every day and helping guide the younger guys.’’
His teammates include sophomore starting pitcher John Gorman of Norwood and freshman reliever John Nicklas of Foxborough.
Gorman (no relation to the late Red Sox GM Lou Gorman), who was selected in the 50th round of the 2011 Major League draft by Boston, has been moved into the rotation after a stellar freshman season in which he posted a 3.76 ERA in 22 games. Nicklas is breaking in as a reliever.
“John Gorman is just a super competitive kid who will do whatever it takes to beat you,’’ said Gambino, “And John Nicklas, as he learns to pitch at this level and mature, is going to be very good for us.’’
Gorman, a right-hander who was Massachusetts Gatorade Player of the Year his senior season at Catholic Memorial School, played last summer for the Sanford Mainers of the New England Collegiate Baseball League.
“It was a great learning experience,’’ said Gorman, who is working on refining his curveball. “I was ready to be a closer again this season, but I had been a starter my entire life until I got to BC so either role is great. I’m just looking to get the ball and help the team win.’’
Nicklas, a righty starter at St. Sebastian’s School in Needham where he was a three-time Independent School League All-star, said the atmosphere at JetBlue Park was surreal.
“I couldn’t have asked for anything better,’’ he said. “We had season tickets for the Red Sox, so seeing them in the other dugout was like a dream.’’
Collins, Wynn share Babson success
In their four-year careers on the court at Babson College, Weymouth’s Sarah Collins and Allanah Wynn of Quincy were part of a squad that has won 85 straight games against NEWMAC foes — 12 in the postseason — including a 66-55 victory over Wellesley in last Sunday’s conference championship game.
With the win, Babson (25-2) earned its fifth consecutive berth in the NCAA Division 3 women’s tournament.
“It’s very emotional when you think back over four years how hard the coaches and players worked and gave so much,’’ said Collins, a 6-foot-2 All-American senior center who scored 32 points and added 10 rebounds and four blocked shots.
Collins, named the NEWMAC tournament’s Outstanding Player for the second straight season, as well as earning Player of the Year honors in the conference, moved to the top of the program’s career rebounding list (1,140).
She was also Babson’s career leader in field goal percentage (.553), blocked shots (334), and blocks per game (2.98) prior to this weekend’s opening round of the NCAA’s.
Fellow captain Wynn, the team’s point guard who prepped at Milton Academy, had seven points while freshman Megan Otto of Scituate chipped in with four points, six rebounds, and four assists.
“We left everything on the court every game,” said Wynn, whose father, Malcolm Wynn , was also NCAA-bound. He’s the head men’s coach at Curry College of Milton, which took a 21-7 record into the D-3 bracket at Middlebury College Saturday night.Continued...