His baseball career at the University of Southern Maine over, Jake Dexter anxiously awaited for what came next.

He wasn’t selected in Major League Baseball’s amateur draft, but Dexter was hoping for a chance to play again. It came over the weekend.

Dexter, 22, signed a free-agent contract with the Los Angeles Angels and is currently working out in Tempe, Arizona, while he waits to be assigned to a minor league club. A two-time D3baseball.com all-America first-team selection as a utility player, Dexter is getting his chance as a relief pitcher.

“It’s pretty humbling,” said Dexter, the former Messalonskee High standout from Oakland. “It’s very humbling actually. I just think about Southern Maine and all my teammates and coaches and I really wouldn’t be doing this stuff without them. They got me ready. There are some really good ballplayers at USM and even being here for just a few days, I can really appreciate what they did for me.”

Dexter had an outstanding four-year career with the Huskies, setting the school record with 34 saves, along with a 2.08 ERA in 91 appearances. He went 16-9 and struck out 148 in 147 1/3 innings. He also hit .345 in his career, with 43 extra-base hits and 104 RBI.

USM Coach Ed Flaherty isn’t surprised Dexter got his opportunity.

“I think he deserves a shot,” said Flaherty. “If he focuses primarily on pitching, I think he can go a long ways. I used him hitting, pitching, playing second base, everything. If you put that kid in one spot on the mound, I think he can go a long way as a reliever.”

Just before baseball’s amateur draft, Dexter threw a bullpen session for an Angels scout. He was working out for some independent leagues when he got a call last weekend. “I guess some stuff opened up and we were able to work something out,” he said.

Dexter was named to the D3baseball.com all-America first team as a utility player for the second consecutive year this spring after he hit .373 with eight saves and a 1.49 ERA. He also hit four home runs with 39 RBI and 44 runs scored.

Now, he’s going to concentrate on pitching. And that’s all right with Dexter.

“I love to pitch,” he said. “I just love being on a team. I like being able to just stay in the game.”

Dexter has been talking with his older brother, Sam, the former USM star who was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the 23rd round of the 2016 draft. He advanced to high A Winston-Salem, North Carolina, before being released in 2018. He’s now playing in the independent American Association for the Milwaukee Milkmen.

“Sam went through what I’m going through and it’s nice to be able to talk to him about stuff,” said Dexter. “He told me there’s going to be a lot of stuff coming at me and that it’s good to take some of it, but you’ve got to just be yourself.”

Dexter, who still has a couple of classes to take before he graduates from USM, can’t wait to get on the mound again.

“I just have to go out and compete my hardest,” he said. “I’m not too worried about what I have to do to make an impression. I’m more focused on giving it my all and getting ready, pounding the zone. Once you get in the game, just turn on that compete mode and let the rest take care of itself.”

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