The agony of defeat isn’t all agony for Rochester Patriots American Legion pitcher Zack Carr.
Not the way he pitches. This spring, playing for Rochester John Marshall, there were way too many personal highs in the string of narrow losses he absorbed for Carr to ever feel totally defeated.
Carr finished the high school season with one win and four losses, all four of those setbacks by one run. But he also ended it with a tidy 2.4 ERA, a no-hitter and having been chosen to the all-Section 1AAAA team.
Yes, narrow losses are disappointing. But for Carr, the joy of pitching kept winning out.
“I really like pitching,” said the 5-foot-9, 160-pound left-hander, who’ll be a senior this fall at JM. “Being our team’s No. 1 pitcher is something I really love, even though it is nerve wracking. I like that everything is on you, that your teammates are relying on you.”
He also knows what to do about those nerves. He breathes them away.
“I do lots of deep breathing, before, during and after the games,” Carr said.
That’s one of the many tips he’s received from former Rochester Century pitching star Mitch Brown, who spent years pitching in the Cleveland Indians’ minor-league system.
Brown is now employed by Jeff Milene at the Rochester Batting Cages where Carr is one of his many pupils.
Make that one of his many appreciative and indebted pupils. Brown knows his stuff. And now Carr knows it. Carr has been going to him since he was a 5-5, 115-pound freshman. This winter, he headed out there five days per week, 2 hours at a time.
With it, he saw the velocity on his fastball jump from 75 mph last year to its current 83. That was one of his many improvements.
“I’ve been going to Mitch for three solid years,” Carr said. “He has me do a lot of lifts, a lot of explosive drills and helps me get good form with my throwing, which is a big one.”
Another big one has been teaching Carr to add variety to his pitching game. Carr certainly has that now, with four different pitches, his top two a fastball and a curve. He also mixes in a changeup and an occasional knuckleball.
“Zack has a great pitching arsenal,” Patriots second-year coach Taylor Field said. “He’s also very competitive on the mound. He wants to win. And he’s a guy who’d say he can throw five days in a row if we need him to.”
Carr has hopes of his Patriots team winning more than it loses this summer. JM finished 8-12 in the spring, with hitting its primary problem. It was a deficit shared by Carr, an athletic leadoff hitter, but a guy who batted in the .200’s as a junior.
Carr sees that turning around for him and his teammates.
“We have already hit the ball better this summer,” he said. “I think this summer, we’re going to crush the ball.”
And if the Patriots don’t and Carr absorbs more losses, don’t expect him to lose hope or love for his craft.
Field says that his standout thrower has a keen sense of humor, which helps lighten down times. But above all, he has a love of this game and operating from one place — the pitcher’s mound.
It’s his happy place.