Former Newburyport state-champion pitcher Ryan O’Connor has solidified his spot in the Bentley University rotation during the opening month of the baseball season.
O’Connor, who earned Cape Ann League Player of the Year during his senior season at Newburyport High in 2011, pitched seven scoreless innings in a 9-1 victory over University of Bridgeport Wednesday in Bentley’s spring break trip to Winter Park, Fla. O’Connor evened his record to 2-2, and lowered his ERA to 2.70. He allowed five hits and two walks while recording four strikeouts.
“I’ve had ups and downs this year,” O’Connor said. “But I’m starting to find my way in college. I hope to keep improving.”
O’Connor pitched below his standards as a freshman at Bentley, logging an 0-3 record with a 6.46 ERA in 23 2/3 innings. During an outing midway through the season, he dislocated his throwing shoulder during his delivery, effectively ending his season.
“It felt like someone stabbed me,” O’Connor said. “It didn’t feel very good. I was doing physical therapy at school the rest of the spring and most of the summer.”
O’Connor said he has yet to return to 100 percent health this season, although he appears to be fully stretched out midway through March. He threw 96 pitches in Wednesday’s victory. Bentley evened its record to 6-6.
“I hope to help the team get to the (Northeast-10 Conference) tournament like we did last year,” O’Connor said. “I’d like to go farther than we did last year when we lost the play-in game.”
O’Connor was Newburyport’s ace as a senior in 2011, leading the team to the Division 3 state championship. He logged a pitching record of 22-6 at Newburyport and set school records for strikeouts in a game (18), season (122) and career (236).
“I still check in with people from Newburyport once in a while,” O’Connor said. “Obviously, we talk a lot less than we did in high school.”