PG South: After busy junior year, Abbott takes time off
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Justin Abbott did not always have a rubber arm.
Abbott, a 2006 Seton-LaSalle High School graduate, would get a tired arm just like any other pitcher ... but he kept pitching.
His innings total increased throughout high school and in his first three years pitching for Allegheny College, his appearances and innings has risen, too. Heading into his senior year at Allegheny College, Abbott is already fifth all-time in appearances at the school.
"I really didn't know what to expect coming in (to Allegheny)," Abbott said. "When I realized what my role was my freshman year, I knew I could definitely have a lot of appearances.
"All the innings haven't bothered me. I think over time my arm has gotten used to it and it's sort of like I have a rubber arm."
It is not just that Abbott is racking up appearances, but he is making the most out of all his innings, too. He led the team in ERA during his sophomore year and this year finished with a 3.95 ERA and a team-best six wins and three saves.
Abbott's six wins were the most for a Gators' pitcher since Shaler Area's Drew Scibetta won six games in 2004. His 3.95 ERA earned him All-North Coast Athletic Conference honorable mention.
Earlier this season through seven appearances from March 15 to April 5 Abbott went through a dominant stretch on the mound. He did not allow an earned run in 181/3 innings.
As a team Allegheny went 22-16 this season. It was the Gators' best campaign in Abbott's three years.
"It was our best year as a team and individually I have had my best year," Abbott said. "I am really looking forward to next year, especially because it is my senior year."
At Seton-LaSalle, Abbott was a starting pitcher and also played shortstop and second base. When he got to Allegheny for his freshman year, he became strictly a reliever, but this season Abbott started three games and made the rest of his 17 appearances out of the bullpen.
"Originally, I thought I was going to be a closer, but then it kind of turned into middle relief and then I started three games. I ended up pretty much doing everything," Abbott said.
"I like starting games the best but the one thing about being a starter, you only have one set day. As a reliever I had an opportunity to have an impact in more games."
With the numbers Abbott put up this year, the Gators' coaching staff hopes he can impact as many games as possible. In his 431/3 innings this year he struck out 24 and only walked 10. Even though he led the team in appearances and was second in innings, Abbott only surrendered one home run all season.
In high school Abbott played under current Seton-LaSalle coach Shawn Trainor for four years. During Abbott's junior season the Rebels won 13 games, including three playoff games to reach the WPIAL semifinals
"We made a great run in high school during my junior year and overall I thought we had a pretty successful team for my four years," Abbott said.
When Abbott returns to the Allegheny campus in the fall, he will be greeted by a new pitching coach. The position has not been filled yet, but Abbott is used to transition among coaches. Former Allegheny coach, 28-year veteran Mike Ferris, retired after Abbott's sophomore year and Kelly Swiney took over last season.
"I talked to coach [Swiney] after this past season and he said there is a good chance I will have the same role," Abbott said.
"He recruited a lot of pitchers and if one of them would happen to fill a spot, my role might change, but as of now I will probably have the same role."
If the role does stay the same, Abbott can expect his arm to continue to be stretched out. He may graduate from Allegheny as the all-time leader in appearances.
First Published July 9, 2009 12:00 am