DANVERS — When the St. John’s baseball team needed to salvage its postseason run, Eagles coach Dan Letarte turned to junior reliever Ryan Bradley. With his team trailing Walpole 6-4 in a Division 1A ‘Super 8’ elimination game, Bradley delivered 4 1/3 shutout innings and five strikeouts. St. John’s won 7-6 and advanced to the ‘Super 8’ championship game.
“He saved our season,” Letarte said. “Ryan’s as tough as they come. He’s a tremendous athlete with great energy and focus.”
Bradley, a Peabody native, has made his future plans official. He’ll join the baseball team at Division I Bryant University next year.
“I definitely felt an instant connection with the coaches and everything,” Bradley, who also plays hockey, said. “(Pitching coach) Ted Hurvul pretty much welcomed me in right away. He was a left-handed pitcher too and we talked a lot about that. I know some of the guys up there already. (Former Eagles catcher) Alex Lane, I got to throw to him at St. John’s. Jake Gustin’s up there, he’s a Peabody native. I just felt it was a great fit.”
Prior to announcing his commitment, Bradley also considered Bucknell, Holy Cross and Northeastern.
Bradley will join a Bulldogs program that’s on the upswing. Bryant finished the 2019 season at 40-20 and lost to Central Connecticut in the Northeast Conference final.
“The team’s great,” Bradley said. “They had a great season last year. They’ve added some great recruits. They have a great bond, it seems. The people I’ve talked to love it there. I just felt I can grow there as a player and a student as well.
“It’s very relieving. I get a chance to really focus on my academics. I know where I’m going. I’m pretty calm now. I get to have fun during hockey season. Hopefully we can make a run there too. I’m really excited for my senior year and then the next four that come after that.”
Bradley’s the sixth St. John’s player to announce his college commitment during the offseason. Fellow Eagles DJ Pacheco (Richmond), Will Frain (UMass Amherst), Joe Castrichini (Stonehill), Matt Remley (Holy Cross) and Patrick D’Amico (Seton Hall) will also continue their careers at high-level programs.
Bradley said the pieces are in place for St. John’s to make another ‘Super 8’ run next spring. St. John’s lost to North Andover in last season’s ‘Super 8’ final.
“We have the guys,” Bradley said. “Everyone on the team right now, we’re all hard workers. Everyone’s determined to reach that goal. We fell just short last year. We’re trying to bounce back and go at it this year. We’re going to put in the work this offseason. We have the talent. It’s just a matter of how much work we put in during the offseason. As soon as the season kicks off, we’ll see what we can do.”
Bradley went 3-1 with a 0.69 ERA during his junior season. Opponents batted just .149 against him. His 4-pitch array includes a 2-seam fastball, 4-seam fastball, changeup and curveball. Bradley’s fastball reached 86 MPH over the summer.
“I usually like to get ahead with the fastball but I’m not afraid to throw the curveball early in counts,” Bradley said. “I rely on those two a lot but I’m not afraid to use all four. I trust myself with all four pitches in being able to use them in any count.”
Bradley credited his coaches for playing key roles in his commitment.
“As soon as the new coaches at Bryant were hired, Coach Letarte was right on it,” Bradley said. “He contacted them immediately. I think he knew from the start that I was bound to go to Bryant. He worked hard to get me there. My summer coach, Steve Lomasney, he put in a lot of work to get me there too.”