COURTESY PHOTO FROM UMASS LOWELL ATHLETICS
David Hoar, a Peabody native, tallied a 4.15 ERA in nine appearances this season.
By HAROLD RIVERA
When Peabody native David Hoar came to UMass Lowell in the fall of 2015, he didn’t have a guaranteed spot on the baseball team.
The walk-on hopeful faced the challenge of impressing River Hawks coach Ken Harring and earning the skipper’s trust. Fast forward to the 2017 season and Hoar has earned Harring’s trust, along with an important role in the River Hawks bullpen.
A left-handed reliever, Hoar made nine appearances out of the bullpen for UMass Lowell this spring. Hoar tallied a 4.15 ERA in his 8.2 innings of work, allowing just four runs on 12 hits.
“If you look at our pitching numbers they’ve been pretty lights out,” River Hawks coach Harring said. “David’s gotten in there and taken advantage of his opportunities. If it’s not one guy one day, it’s another the next day. He’s done a nice job of finding a role on our team.”
After seeing limited playing time as a freshman last season, Hoar has emerged as a reliable relief option for Herring and the River Hawks. The fact that he’s left-handed has served as a plus.
“His velocity has increased and with that he gets more swings and misses,” Harring said. “Being left-handed, that gives us an advantage because batters don’t hit lefties as well. He’s been a big piece. We have three left-handers and he’s been as good as any of them.”
Harring added, “He didn’t get much playing time as a freshman but this season he’s really taking advantage of that. We expect his playing time to increase as he gets older.”
Hoar recognized an opportunity for increased playing time last season, when the River Hawks struggled in what was somewhat of a rebuilding year.
“I didn’t expect to get a lot of playing time,” Hoar said. “At the end of last season, I saw an opportunity to get some playing time. There’s only three of us that are left-handers. I’m just trying to make myself a guy that our team can rely on.”
The key to Hoar’s emergence as a solid reliever on the team stems from being at UMass Lowell for another season. The experience has opened the door for the lefty to find his comfort zone.
“I think a big part of it is just being here for a second year now, more experienced,” Hoar said. “I’m definitely more comfortable on the mound this year than I was last year.”
Hoar has also added velocity to his fastball, a bonus that has gone a long way in his arsenal.
“I picked up a little bit of velocity on my pitches since last year,” Hoar said. “Our pitching coach (Sean McGrath) is a big proponent of a training method called “Driveline.” That’s helped a lot of the pitchers on our staff pick up speed on our fastballs. That’s helped a lot of us.”
Harring has also noticed the sophomore’s improvements this season.
“His fastball command and his ability to move the ball in and out have been his biggest improvements,” Harring said. “If he can command his fastball, he’s that much better. He’s not afraid to attack you either, he’s going to come right at you.”
Hoar’s handful of highlights this season includes an appearance in ESPN Sports Center’s Top Ten Plays, for a double-play he turned in a 6-1 loss to Boston College after catching a line drive to the mound and picking off the runner at first.
A former baseball and basketball star at Peabody High, Hoar has vivid memories of his highlights throughout his three seasons playing for the Tanners. At Peabody, Hoar learned the values of brotherhood and community pride that are attached to high school baseball.
“In Peabody it means a lot to play for that team, especially having seen my older brother (Kyle Moultner) play for them,” Hoar said. “It’s important. Everyone’s just trying to maintain that winning reputation and maintain that legacy.”
Hoar added, “High school baseball’s special. You’re playing with guys that you’ve played with since you were eight years old. That’s what I miss most about playing for Peabody.”
The River Hawks were picked to finish last in the America East Conference after they went 20-32 in 2016. This season UMass Lowell stood at 22-19 and had a chance to sneak into first place in the conference but the River Hawks were swept in a three-game series by a tough Binghamton team and lost eight in a row since.
Despite the sour finish to the season, Hoar and his teammates hold their heads high in showing resiliency and proving their doubters wrong.
“Last year we had a lot of freshmen starting and a lot of them have come back really improved,” Hoar said. “The team’s maturing as we expected. Coming into the season we were expected to finish last in the conference. None of us took that to heart.”
Names and notes
— Lynn Tech graduate Justin Lewis was named the MASCAC Rookie of the Week on Monday. Lewis won the high jump at the NEICAAA Championships this past weekend, clearing 2.06 meters and earning All-New England honors. Lewis will look to put a bow on his impressive rookie season with the Lancers next week at the DIII NCAA Championship in Geneva, Ohio, starting next Wednesday.
— The Salve Regina softball team won the Commonwealth Coast Conference title for the second year in a row, and a big part of the Hawks’ success was thanks to Classical alum Francesca Galeazzi. Galeazzi, a junior, hit .419 in 37 games this season, led the team with 34 stolen bases. She finished second in the CCC in batting average and led the conference in stolen bases.
The Hawks were knocked out of DIII Regional Championships this past weekend.
— Peabody’s Courtney Smith was named to the MASCAC women’s lacrosse All-Conference Second Team after leading the Vikings with 42 goals, good for sixth-best in the league. The junior was also 10th overall in MASCAC in points (54). Making the All-Conference First Team for the Salem State softball team was Fenwick grad Jen Crovo, who hit .390 and finished second in the conference in runs (37), hits (52) and triples (4). She also set a new school record with 27 stolen bases. Saugus native Courtney Leddy, who plays second base for the Bridgewater State softball team, was named to the MASCAC Second Team.