LYNN — There’s something about having a dominant pitcher that takes a weight off a baseball coach’s shoulders. St. Mary’s junior right-hander Bobby Alcock is certainly one of those pitchers.
Alock, a Lynn native in his second season pitching for the Spartans varsity team, has emerged as one of the more feared pitchers in the Catholic Central League. As a sophomore last spring, Alcock went 5-5 in nine starts with 85 strikeouts and a 1.69 ERA. That includes a perfect game in a 3-0 win over Arlington Catholic in which he tallied 15 strikeouts.
“Bobby gives us a chance to win every time he’s out,” St. Mary’s coach Derek Dana said. “It’s been that way for two years. He gives us a chance to win against anybody we see.”
For an encore, Alcock is off to a 5-2 start to the 2018 season. In 39 innings of work, Alcock has totalled 77 strikeouts with a 1.23 ERA. Over his past three starts, Alcock has earned shutout wins over Archbishop Williams, Lowell Catholic and Cardinal Spellman. In that span, he has allowed just six hits while fanning 38 batters.
“He’s finishing now,” Dana said. “He’s gotten stronger. He had a great offseason. He wants to finish games. He wants the ball in his hands. The proof is in the pudding with three complete-game shutouts in a row. He wants to make sure that he gets it done.
“He’s maturing and he understands when the ball is in his hands, the game is in his hands,” Dana added. “He pounds the strike zone, competes and wants to finish. That’s everything we talk about. Good things are happening for him.”
One of the keys to Alcock’s success this spring has been his ability to establish command from both sides of the plate.
“Me and my coaches have tried to establish the inner half of the plate early so I can use both sides of the plate,” Alock said. “Last year I tried to use the outer half of the plate most of the time. When I get to use the inner half from the beginning of the game, it’s harder for batters to catch up.”
It also helps a pitcher’s cause when he has a reliable group of gloves behind him. Alcock has nothing but confidence in St. Mary’s defense.
“I just try to throw strikes and let the defense help me out,” Alcock said. “The defense has been a huge part this year. My job is to go out and throw strikes, let them make plays. I’ve gained a lot of confidence in them knowing they can make those plays.”
Entering the season, Alcock’s main goal was to help lead the Spartans to another state tournament berth. St. Mary’s reached the Division 3 North tournament last season as the No. 7 seed. St. Mary’s tournament run was short-lived, however, as the Spartans were bounced from the bracket by No. 10 Weston after a 3-2 loss.
Alcock’s hopeful that another year of experience pays dividends for a group of Spartans underclassmen that played key roles in 2017. The Spartans, 9-5 on the season, are one win away from clinching a bid to states. St. Mary’s was bumped up to Division 2 during the offseason.
“One of my goals is to help us make a deep run into the state tournament and hopefully bring home a state championship,” Alock said. “We had a newer team last year with a lot of first-year guys. It was more of an experience factor than anything, losing in that first round game. We’re hoping that experience transitions into this year and we think it has so far.”
With the Spartans bats picking things up as of late, things are looking good for St. Mary’s as the team nears the closing end of its regular season. As the tournament quickly approaches, Alcock feels now’s the perfect time for St. Mary’s to play at its best.
“Coach Dana always preaches ‘get ahead early and finish them,'” Alcock said. “That’s what our offense has been doing as of late. They’re scoring a lot of runs and they’re scoring early. That’s helping us win games.
“The end of the season is the most challenging part,” Alock added. “We have a couple tough games coming up soon and then the state tournament. It’s great for us to start clicking now.”
With Alcock pitching at his best and his teammates following suit, the Spartans are excited to close the regular season on a high note.
“They found a way to win (last) Friday against Salem (4-3 win in extra innings),” Dana said. “They found a way to win and finish. With Bobby being lined up, he takes the ball and he wants to start and finish games. When you have that type of kid, we’re certainly looking forward to the closing stretch here.”