NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

August 8, 2013

Saving his best for last

Triton grad Palaez relishes role as closer for Stoneham Sabers

By Jim Sullivan
Correspondent

---- — Triton alum Connor Pelaez knows the joys the baseball diamond can bring working as a closer.

“It’s the best feeling in the world,” the Byfield native said about saving a game. “I feel like I did my job.”

The left-hander has been doing his job more and more of late as the closer for the 23-10 Stoneham Sabers in Boston’s Yawkey League.

“I’ve learned so much more about the game as far as being a reliever and as far as being a part of an organization,” said Pelaez. “This whole summer has probably been the best summer of my life, baseball wise. It’s the level of competition.”

Pelaez loves to compete and the Sabers have given him the opportunity to do so against other semi-pro teams from the Greater Boston Area such as the South Boston Saints, the West Roxbury Nationals and the Savin Hill Hornets.

“I’m a competitive person,” said Pelaez. “I was born with that. I love that aspect of the game, it’s kind of second nature to me. I love being on a team and competing. Being on the mound, I love it. (The Yawkey League) is very, very competitive. We have people who just got out of the Division 1 schools. We have people that got let go from the pros and are down here, throwing a little bit.”

A part of the Vikings’ baseball program for four years, the 2011 grad also spent time in Triton’s basketball, track, football and wrestling programs. But he found that being a lefty gave him an advantage on the diamond.

“I always felt I had a better chance in baseball than in football,” admitted the southpaw.

Since leaving Triton, Pelaez has been pitching for Bunker Hill Community College, where he was moved into the bullpen because he could handle those quick bursts of pressure that relieving requires.

“It takes the right guy to do the job,” said Pelaez. “He has to have the mentality to handle the pressure. He has to be ability to go with whatever situation he may find himself in.”

Over the spring, one of Pelaez’s coaches suggested that he give the Yawkey League a try. Pelaez tried out, did well and made the team.

“Everyone there is there for one reason: baseball,” said Pelaez. “Every game is a rivalry for us. That’s the mentality.”

With an 82 mph fastball, Pelaez mostly relies on his curve ball and circle change-up to get the job done.

“I paint the inside corners all day, every day,” said Pelaez. “I’d rather hit the spots and then I can work on my speed. As long as I get that location, location, as long as I can do my job.”

With the playoffs about to begin next week, Pelaez has worked in five games so far this season with one save. But he gave up five earned runs in one game against the Boston Dodgers, accounting for his current 7.00 ERA.

“That one game I just stunk,” said Pelaez. “I just couldn’t find my spot and they were a good-hitting team. I just completely went off on myself when I hit the dugout.”

But when things do work out, as they have in the other four games where he allowed no runs, Pelaez knows he’s filling a role that is irreplaceable.

“I think the closer role is very important,” said Pelaez. “Because as you come in and you have a lead, let’s say a 3-run lead. You’re doing good. But the responsibility is yours. When you come in, you’ve got to set a goal for yourself and kind of seal everything together.”