As the summer ends for Framingham State University pitcher Al Wallach, the Nahant native looks ahead to his senior season after spending his summer improving his skills with the Winnipesaukee Muskrats.
“It was easily the best competition I have seen in my life,” Wallach said of his season with the Muskrats, who are apart of the New England Collegiate Baseball League. “But it’s been really good, it’s definitely been an experience I’ll never forget.”
The Muskrats finished the season at 14-29 and fell short of qualifying for the NECBL postseason.
Originally, last spring was slated to be Wallach’s final season on the mound for Framingham. However an injury resulted in a red-shirt season and an extra year of eligibility.
“I was supposed to be playing my senior year last spring but went down with a non-serious injury,” Wallach, a right-hander, said. “I had played for the Navigators for two summers and as I was trying to set things up with them. The Muskrats reached out to me and I decided to play with them.
“I didn’t think I was going to be getting a chance to play this summer so it’s been a great experience,” Wallach added. “It was unexpected but so much fun.”
Wallach can recall being nervous to face off against some of the NECBL’s Division I talents, but after a few outings the former Swampscott High School athlete started to settle in.
“It was pretty nerve-racking, I remember looking at the other teams’ rosters and seeing (players from) colleges like Vanderbilt and Penn State,” Wallach said. “We had lost 17-0 before my first start and everyone told me ‘just have fun tomorrow.’
“I thought to myself, ‘I’m here I might as well go for it,'” Wallach added. “The first couple innings were jarring but after that it was like riding a bike.”
Eventually Wallach was moved to the Muskrats’ bullpen, a move that he said helped him improve going forward with the season.
“Once I was moved to the bullpen things got a lot easier,” Wallach said. “I think my confidence was up and down all summer, especially not throwing all spring. I just wanted to stay working off the field and stay ready for when they needed me. Once I was back throwing and got into playing shape it got better.”
Wallach threw 29.2 innings for the Muskrats this summer, going 2-3 with a 6.37 ERA while recording 20 strikeouts and allowing 39 hits. His season was highlighted by a streak of eight appearances where he threw 10.2 innings, allowing four runs on 11 hits while striking out eight and walking one.
The real takeaway from his time with the Muskrats was improving his curveball and focusing on his delivery, Wallach said.
“Just being around those guys there was a lot of Division I talent from the coaches and players, I learned so much,” Wallach said. “I wanted to try to focus on being more dynamic with my delivery and incorporate my lower body more.
“Before this summer I was a fastball and changeup pitcher,” Wallach added. “I also wanted to take time to work on my curveball. The curveball improved so much that by the end of the summer I was barely throwing my changeup anymore.”
After sharpening his game, Wallach’s looking forward to his senior season with high hopes for Framingham’s team under new coach Sean Callahan. The university tabbed Callahan as the program’s new coach earlier this week.
“I’m looking forward to working with our new coach and getting on the same page,” Wallach said. “Our team is probably going to be as loaded as it’s ever been.
“I think we all know we can win the conference and anything can happen in regionals,” Wallach added. “We all have the same goal and we’re looking forward to setting that in motion.”