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BCC’s Hunter Allen picks ECU; Zachary Andrews, CSU

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By Michael Paul, Sports Editor

 Two Brunswick Community College baseball players signed letters of intent Nov. 14 to attend four-year colleges.

Infielder Hunter Allen will play for East Carolina University and pitcher Zachary Andrews will play for Charleston Southern University.

 

Zachary Andrews

Andrews, a right-handed pitcher, appeared in 15 games last season, finishing 3-1 with five saves and a 1.09 ERA. In 24.2 innings, he gave up 17 hits, walked six and hit two. He struck out 25. Sixty-four percent of his first pitches were strikes, and of that total, 84.4 percent of those at-bats resulted in outs.

Three former Dolphins are on the current CSU roster: senior infielder John Faircloth, junior pitcher Tory Schroff and sophomore pitcher Joe Pistacchio. The Buccaneers finished 20-36 last season.

“For whatever reason,” BCC coach Robbie Allen said, “our kids have fallen in love with Charleston Southern and they have fallen in love with our kids.

“I got a call from another coach today about it, and he said, ‘What is it about Charleston Southern? What do we need to do to pick some of these guys up?’”

In his freshman year, Andrews lived with Pistacchio.

“He gave me a pretty good insight about the school,” Andrews said. “He said he liked it a lot. He said he really enjoyed the coaching and he said that the team was ‘together.’ I really like that.”

Andrews plans to focus on business entrepreneurship at CSU.

Andrews said he was proud of his 1.09 ERA last season.

“That means you come in and you get the job done,” he said.

About his first-pitch strikes, he said “it is a huge deal” to get ahead in the count.

“After that, you command what goes on. You have the hitter guessing, not knowing what comes next.”

“He played a tremendous role in our success,” Allen said. “He was normally a starter out of high school and he became our closer.

“He was one of the guys we could really rely on last year to get the job done late in the game.”

Allen said Andrews had a streak of appearances of not allowing a run.

“He will be one of our starters (this season),” Allen said. “He will (pitch) on the weekend for us, and not only that, I think when he gets to Charleston Southern, he will be one of their weekend guys, too.

Andrews said he still remembers how BCC’s 2012 season ended in a marathon of tournament games.

“It’s right in the front of my mind,” he said. “It drives me, honestly, the way that we went out, the way that everybody came together at tournament time and went after it. I love my team. I’m really excited for this year.”

“He’s not only a good pitcher,” Allen said, “but a good person.”

 

Hunter Allen

Hunter Allen, son of BCC coach Robbie Allen, had a chance out of high school to play at smaller four-year colleges, but he wanted to play at a Division I college.

“East Carolina was his dream school out of high school,” Robbie Allen said.

“I’ve known coach (Billy) Godwin for a little while,” Hunter Allen said.

Hunter Allen pursued his dream by enrolling at BCC to sharpen his skills and improve his strength.

“That was always he issue,” Robbie Allen said. “How strong could he be?

Hunter Allen has gained 10 pounds and is a stronger player than he was in high school at West Brunswick.

Last season, Hunter Allen batted .346 and had an on-base percentage of .410. He played in 42 games and 51 of his 54 hits were singles, tying for second for most hits on the team. He also scored 33 runs, which were second most for the Dolphins.

“And the amazing part about that was that he was out for almost four weeks,” Robbie Allen said.

In 174 plate appearances, Hunter Allen struck out six times.

“He just has good hand-eye coordination,” Robbie Allen said. “It’s just one of those things he’s been able to do all the way through (his career).”

“(If) it gets to two strikes,” Hunter Allen said, “I just shorten (the bat) down, and if there are runners on base, just try to put (the ball) in play and move them around.”

At shortstop, Hunter Allen made 16 errors in 172 chances (.907).

“It wasn’t as good as I wanted,” Hunter Allen said, “but still something to be proud of.”

Robbie Allen is proud his son has fulfilled a dream.

“I can tell you there have been many times we spent at the cage when other people were out doing other things,” Robbie Allen said. “Before we moved down here, we had a batting cage in our backyard and I’d come home afternoons and he’d be out there hitting off the tee.”

 “Having him around to correct (my skills) was a big plus,” Hunter Allen said.

“We both have lot of blood, sweat and tears invested,” Robbie Allen said. “I’ve spent a lot of extra time with him after practice hours. Even when I was not coaching him, I was going out and hitting ground balls to him—but only when he wanted to.

“We had an understanding a long time ago, I would not say, ‘We’re going to hit, we’re going to hit groundballs.’ You have to ask me.”

Robbie Allen remembered some of those times and laughed. “There were a lot of times I did not want to go,” he said. “But I went.”

“Sunday afternoon was like a ritual,” Hunter Allen said. “We’d go to church, come home and eat and then go out and spend the rest of the day we had hitting in the cage.

“I was always me begging him. Sometimes he would be too tired, but I could tell there was still a little bit of a kid in him and he wanted to get outside and play, too.”

Hunter Allen said his dad also taught him baseball strategy.

“I feel like having him around was always a big help,” he said.

Hunter Allen recalled watching alone a game of the recent World Series.

“I would text him, ‘Would you not have bunted there?’ Would you not hit-and-run there? Why didn’t they do that with no outs and no runs on the board?’’

“The more knowledge you have of the game and the wiser you are on the field,” Robbie Allen said, “the more advantages you have.”

And the work continues.

“He’s put in his time,” Robbie Allen said. “I told him when he made his decision, ‘I’m thankful, but you’re work is not over.’ You’re still working and trying to get better. You get better on your own time. The good players have talent and ability, but it’s the extra work they put in that separates them.”

Hunter Allen will be the second Dolphin in three years to play for the Pirates. Infielder Jay Cannon, who played for the Dolphins from 2010-11, will be a senior this season. He started 40 of 45 games last season and batted .308 with 23 RBIs for the Pirates, who finished 36-24-1.

Hunter Allen took over at shortstop at BCC when Cannon graduated, and the two stay in touch. Hunter Allen hopes to become a baseball coach.

“Jay and I talk a lot,” Hunter Allen said. “Two weekends ago I went up (to ECU) for a visit and got to hang out with Jay,” Hunter Allen said.

 “He works hard, he plays hard,” Robbie Allen said about Cannon, “which is what I told them they would get. And they would get a headsy player—he is very knowledgeable player—and they would get a good person. That’s what they got. They know that now.”

Next year, the ECU baseball coaches may have the same praise about Hunter Allen.