LYNN — When you’re a college baseball player, the summer is anything but an offseason. College players use the summer to continue working on their crafts and get in as many reps as they can. Lynnfield native Justin Foley spent his summer doing just that with the North Shore Navigators of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League and now he’s ready to carry what he’s learned back to Division III Bates College.
The Navigators finished the 2018 FCBL season at 20-35, just two wins shy of clinching a berth in the league playoffs. Despite the shortcoming, Foley, a right-handed pitcher, enjoyed his experience playing with North Shore and came away proud of his development through the summer.
“As a team we weren’t the most successful team but we definitely had a great group of guys,” Foley, a St. John’s Prep graduate, said. “I got to work on some stuff as an individual. I was really happy with the way the summer ended.”
An FCBL veteran, Foley joined the Navigators this season after spending the past two summers with the Nashua Silver Knights. Foley split his duties with the Navigators as a reliever and starter. The Prep product made 11 appearances, four of them as a starter, and finished with a 3-1 record, 27 strikeouts and a 3.16 ERA. He allowed 36 hits and 11 walks in 42 2/3 innings of work.
Foley closed his summer on a high note in his last start of the season, a seven-inning effort against the Pittsfield Suns. He allowed just one run on five hits and tallied three strikeouts in a 2-1 North Shore win.
“It was a great. Facing guys that play Division I baseball at big name schools, they definitely know how to hit,” Foley said. “That’s not to take anything away from the hitters you face at the Division III level but it gives you a lot of confidence when you get those Division I guys out.”
His main improvement this summer, Foley said, was the development of his slider. Coming into the summer, Foley’s arsenal of pitches included a fastball, curveball and change-up.
“I really worked on knowing what pitches to throw in situations,” Foley said. “I added a slider and got really comfortable with that.
“It’s a good pitch to throw to hitters,” Foley said. “They see a different spin. They can’t time it up as well. It’s about keeping guys off balance. It just helps me out that way.”
Foley wasn’t the only local who spent the summer working on his craft in his own backyard with North Shore. The Navigators featured a handful of other North Shore-area products on this season’s roster, some of which Foley played against in his high school days at St. John’s.
“It was fun, I remember playing against some of those guys in high school,” Foley said. “A couple of my (Navigators) teammates play at Tufts, so I get to play against them in the spring. Fraser Field’s a cool place to play. The Navigators staff, (interim general manager) Ashley (Laramie) and (general manager) Bill (Terlecky), they do a good job.
“I had a blast,” Foley said. “The team was loaded with local guys. I’ve heard a bunch of these names before. It was cool to finally get to meet them. They’re great guys and great baseball players. Things didn’t go our way this season but we had fun every day.”
Foley returns to Bates with high expectations for his senior baseball season. The Bobcats finished at 14-19 last spring and qualified for the NESCAC Tournament.
“We had a really good year this past spring,” Foley said. “We had a good regular season and made the NESCAC Tournament. We didn’t perform as well in the tournament as we wanted to. Getting back to the tournament is our expectation and we feel we have a good shot to win next year.”
Before Foley can wrap his focus around baseball season, he has football on his plate. A two-sport athlete, Foley’s also the punter for the school’s football team. Foley averaged 36.1 yards per punt last fall and pinned Bates’ opponents inside their own 20-yard line 14 times. Bates went 2-7 last year.
The Bobcats open the 2018 season September 15 when they host NESCAC rival Amherst.