Baseball may seem light years away given the fact most fields are still buried under a couple of feet of snow, but it’s in full swing at the college level.
Former Classical High hurler Kyle Gauthier already has two games under his belt for the Division 1 University of Hartford Hawks and his performance in one of those games earned him his first America East Pitcher of the Week honor.
Gauthier tossed a beauty in the team’s opener. The Hawks won 12-1 over Iona with Gauthier allowing one earned run in seven innings pitched. He struck out eight (tying his career high set as a freshman against Albany), surrendered three hits and didn’t walk a batter. The game was played in Durham, N.C.
Gauthier, a 6-5, 210-pound junior, earned a spot as a starter the latter half of his sophomore year. He started his last seven games and finished the season at 4-1. Gauthier’s second start of the 2015 season came against the University of Virginia, the team that lost to Vanderbilt (home of former Lynn English pitcher Ben Bowden) in the final of the 2014 College World Series. The Cavaliers are ranked in the top four in all six national polls.
The Hawks (3-3) lost that game, 5-1, with Gauthier (6 innings, 5 runs, 4 earned, 5 hits, 3 strikeouts, 3 walks) taking the loss. The game was played in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
“Everyone in that lineup can hit,” Gauthier said. “Whether it was me or one of the position players, they made you pay for any mistakes you made.”
Although the Hawks had a rough season his freshman year (17-36), they made a big leap last year under coach Justin Blood, finishing 31-23. Although the team lost some key players to graduation, including their ace, Sean Newcomb (15th overall in the MLB First Year Player Draft), Gauthier is optimistic about the team’s chances this year.
“We made the conference tournament (for the first time) and we set a school record of 31 wins (last year),” Gauthier said, adding one of the team’s goals this year is to win the America East Conference. He’d also love to see the team get into the NCAA tournament, which is no small feat.
Gauthier isn’t the only former Classical High pitcher making news these days. Gauthier’s older brother, Tyler, who also toiled on the hill for the Rams, has joined the Nichols College baseball staff. The older Gauthier had a stellar career at Southern New Hampshire University, where he helped lead the team to the 2012 Division II World Series.
Last summer, Gauthier played for the Hudson Valley Renegades of the New York-Penn League, but a labrum injury put an end to his stay in New York. Now he’s a pitching coach and recruiting coordinator for the Nichols varsity team and head coach of the junior varsity. The oldest Gauthier brother, Bryant, also played at Classical and SNHU. He currently lives and works in New Hampshire.
The Hawks have one more big “warm weather” road trip and a game against Central Connecticut before they start conference play. They’re in Provo, Utah this weekend where they’ll play a four-game series against the Brigham Young University Cougars, then it’s home to Connecticut. With the Hartford area swimming in snow just like the Boston area, the Hawks, like just about every other Northern team, aren’t getting outside unless they actually play a game in one of the warmer locales. Hartford has a turf field, but the team practices in a bubble.
Although Myrtle Beach sounds very appealing to anyone who has been dealing the snow and cold that has gripped New England for the past month, it wasn’t exactly balmy when Gauthier pitched against the University of Virginia. Gauthier said it was 45-50 degrees on Friday and even colder on Saturday when the team played a double header. Gauthier is 1-1 with a 3.46 ERA in 13 innings.