Saturday, March 8, 2014
HARWICH, Mass. - Ed Flaherty most definitely knows who Logan Carman is and what he can do with a baseball in his left hand.
Carman walked onto the pitching mound for the University of Southern Maine on Sunday and won for the 12th time this season. He broke the single-season school record for wins held for 22 years by Robert Aceto of Cape Elizabeth, a name that should still be recognized by those who remember when USM won its first national baseball title in 1991.
Carman shut out Endicott College on seven hits in Sunday's final game of the NCAA Division III New England tournament. He shut out Daniel Webster College on three hits when the tournament began on Wednesday and made it look too easy.
Too easy. When the men who select the all-tourney team came up with their first draft Saturday night, there was some discussion on Carman. Did he belong? Was he one of the two or three best?
Two wins, two shutouts, two command performances. Carman just didn't do it in the same day like his teammate, Andrew Richards, who was named the tourney's outstanding player.
Of course Carman belonged on the all-tourney team. Not that it would have mattered to him. It was much better to hold the championship trophy and anticipate being on one of eight Division III teams in the country still playing.
"He's not a strikeout pitcher, so he doesn't get a lot of attention that way," said Flaherty of his No. 1 starter. "He pitches to the batters. He changes his pitches, moves them around and keeps batters off balance."
That's the job description and Carman nailed it one more time. He gave up four singles in the first two innings of Sunday's game, but only two were hit out of the infield. He handcuffed Endicott's clean-up hitter, Colin Sitarz, an all-tourney selection. Sitarz, who hit .350 in the tournament, didn't get a hit Sunday.
Carman hasn't been beaten this season. He is Flaherty's ace, the 6-foot-4, 215-pound rock on which this year's rotation has been built. He doesn't have a big man's swagger or a little man's bluster.
He throws hard and speaks softly. He is a visible presence on the mound but hard to ID in a pack of his teammates. You would find a bloody sock on Carman's ankle, but not a shred of Curt Schilling's bellicosity.
Carman was born in Santa Monica, Calif., and played high school baseball on the West Coast before moving with his family to New Hampshire. He's a mathematics major. Go figure.
His left forearm got in the way of a line drive back to the mound and after the game Carman wore a big icepack. You noticed it was nowhere near his elbow or shoulder.
"It hurts," said Carman after posing for photos with family. But never bad enough to tell his head coach.
Several times late in the game he had raised the arm skyward and shook the pain away. At one point, Flaherty asked Richards to warm up -- as if Saturday's 14-inning bravura performance hadn't been enough.
By eating up so many innings in Saturday's must-win games, Richards saved Carman for the final game. In eight-team, double elimination championship tournaments, pitching always gets used up quickly. Carman was fresh when he took the mound Sunday.
Maybe the sight of Richards in the bullpen was a little gamesmanship, laughed Flaherty. "Maybe not. I would have used him if we needed him."
There was no need. Carman wanted to finish the game and USM's lineup of good hitters went to work again. The team batting average is .349, the slugging percentage is .519 and they score an average of nearly 10 runs a game.
You love mashers and USM has plenty of them, from freshman shortstop Sam Dexter leading off to Jake Glauser batting ninth. In six games, the hitters outscored opponents, 34-12.
Instead of looking at how many runs were scored, see how few were allowed. Appreciate another kid who knows how to pitch.
Steve Solloway can be contacted at 791-6412 or at: