Ryan O’Shea adjusted the brim of his hat and looked in for the sign. With one out in the bottom of the sixth inning, locked in a 1-1 tie, Stoughton runners stood on first and second base, and he was in need of two pivotal outs. He fired a pitch low and away, inducing a ground ball to short that got both at once with a rally-killing double play.
“Usually when I need an out, I like to go to my fastball, but it depends on the situation I’m in,” said O’Shea.
Whichever pitch he decides to call on, he tends to get that necessary putout.
Unquestionably one of, if not the best pitcher the Hockomock has to offer, Ryan’s arsenal features the perfect balance of power and finesse. His two-seam fastball touches the high eighties, a rarity in high school baseball. This is countered with a changeup and a sharp curveball that opponents either wave foolishly at as it dives out of reach or watch as it unexpectedly falls into the strike zone.
O’Shea has been putting his polished left arm to work on the baseball diamond since he was four years old, but it wasn’t always so easy.
“My first memory [of baseball] is playing catch with my dad in our driveway,” he recalled. “The ball hit me in the lip and I started crying, but my dad encouraged me to keep playing.”
Thankfully for the Tigers, Ryan stuck with it. After splitting time between the JV and varsity teams as a freshman, he burst onto the Hockomock scene last year as part of a rotation that helped the Tigers to a league championship, and was the only sophomore to be named a Hock All-Star.
Elected a tri-captain for his junior year, O’Shea has turned in two spectacular starts to open the 2011 campaign: He for 6 innings in an 8-0 victory last Thursday, and emerged from a pitcher’s duel with Stoughton on Wednesday
Amidst the mowing down of opposing lineups, though, Ryan’s not much different from any other Oliver Ames High School student. He cites his own personal superstitions, steals his teammates Welch’s Fruit Snacks, plays the tuba, trombone, and guitar, and spends time hanging around at his cottage. And, when he wants to get in touch with his wild side, Ryan’s favorite hobby is fishing.
But that’s not to say he doesn’t have big aspirations. O’Shea has his eyes set on another Hockomock League title this season, as well as state tournament qualification and a deep postseason run.
“Since I watched the 2007 team win the state championship, my goal has been to win states. That team was so talented, and observing them taught me a lot about how to win ballgames.”
Meanwhile, two short years down the road, Ryan is looking to play college baseball.
“I’ve been in touch with several college coaches and so far I’ve received positive feedback,” he said. “I’m still weighing my options and trying to find a good fit both athletically and academically. As for what I want to study, I’m not sure yet.”
One thing’s for certain; when he does hang up his Tiger hat, he will be missed.