Erskine Academy pitcher Shyler Scates knows how to tease and nibble around the plate but above all he throws strikes, lots of them.

In the 61 innings he pitched this season, the senior right-hander walked just three batters. But his outstanding control extends even further. In a 1-0 Eastern A playoff win against rival Cony, Scates threw 64 pitches, 52 of them strikes. And he went to a two-ball count just twice.

“He’s been that way since his sophomore year,” Erskine coach Lars Jonassen said.

True. Last season, Scates walked a total of seven batters.

His control alone makes Scates an effective pitcher, but his value to the team includes his hitting and fielding, too. For his efforts, Scates has been named the Kennebec Journal Baseball Player of the Year. Cony’s Chandler Shostak, Maranacook’s Eben Ballard and Gardiner’s Dennis Meehan were also considered.

Scates finished at 5-2 with three shutouts. He had sketchy defensive support in a couple of outings but didn’t let it affect his overall performance or for that matter his teammates.

“Against Oxford Hills we didn’t field six ground balls,” Jonassen said. “Most high school kids would be mad, not Shyler Scates.”

Scates had developed an effective changeup to go with his fastball and curve and he picked up some velocity, but his slider is his most effective pitch, one he developed last season.

“That helped a lot,” he said. “Then things started to come together. That’s been working really well the last couple of months. I started back-dooring lefties.”

Scates struck out 42 batters this season, but his strength on the mound is his control and ability to  get batters to hit the ball on the ground. It keeps his teammates on their toes.

“They love having him pitch,” Jonassen said. “It’s almost like one-pitch softball. It doesn’t hurt being 6-4 and throwing downhill. When he’s keeping the ball low, he’s almost unhittable.”

When he doesn’t pitch, Scates plays third base where this season he made just one error (he made none as a pitcher).

“I’ve always been focused on defense, any sport I’m playing,” Scates said. “I really take pride in stopping the other team from scoring.”

Scates was just as impressive as a hitter, leading the team in batting average at .452 with seven doubles and 13 RBIs while striking out just twice all season. He’s been part of a renaissance in boys sports at Erskine, especially in baseball. His sophomore year, the Eagles’ first in Class A, they went 1-15. Last year, they finished at 9-7 and reached the playoffs. And this season, they went 11-7 and won a tournament game. The success extended to the basketball team which also made the Class A tournament for the first time with essentially the same group of seniors.

“It’s been really fun,” Scates said. “All of us like each other. We all come from different schools so there’s a little friendly rivalry.”

Scates will attend the University of Southern Maine next season where he’s been recruited to play baseball by coach Ed Flaherty. He’ll be joined by teammate and shortstop Ryan Pulver. He expect to see a few innings on the mound, but is taking nothing for granted.

“I’m going to focus on pitching,” he said. “There’s a lot of talent coming in.”

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638
[email protected]

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