Hampden friends give lift to St. Joe’s

Posted April 09, 2009, at 12:44 a.m.

You can find them working out together at Bordick Field in Hampden during the summer.

Ian Lee and Pat Moran are longtime friends and teammates.

Ian Lee is a catcher by trade who also acts as a designated hitter and he caught Moran when Moran was the ace righthander for the Hampden Academy staff.

These days, they are leading the Saint Joseph’s College Monks to a promising start to what they hope will be a memorable season.

The Monks are currently 14-8 and Lee and Moran have played huge roles in their success.

Moran and Lee said their long history together and knowledge of each other’s strengths and weaknesses has been helpful in their development.

“It’s nice to have Ian around off the field as well as on it,” said Moran. “We’ve known each other so long. It’s good to have his point of view [if I’m doing something wrong] and I’m also able to help him [if I spot something].”

Lee added, “I know how Pat pitches and he knows how I hit, so we can see something the other is doing wrong that we may not pick up [on our own].”

Lee leads the Monks in several offensive categories, including batting average (.481), hits (39), runs batted in (26) and total bases (49). He is tied for the team lead in doubles (10) and stolen bases (5).

Moran has been the ace of the pitching staff as he is 4-0 with a 2.45 ERA. He has allowed just 27 hits in 36ª innings with 39 strikeouts and just three walks. He has surrendered just two homers and opponents are hitting only .203 against him. He has also contributed at the plate, hitting .340 with two homers and 14 RBIs. He is tied for the team lead in homers. He hit .328 last year with two homers and 14 RBIs.

Moran plays the outfield or is the designated hitter when he’s not pitching.

“They have been two great guys for us,” said St. Joseph’s 17-year head coach Will Sanborn. “Ian has been on a tear all year. Last year, he tended to pull the ball and the majority of his hits were to the left side. But he has concentrated on trying to hit the ball the other way this year and he has become a lot more complete hitter. If people try to pitch him away [outside], he’s been able to make the adjustment and go to right with it. He has been very consistent from the get-go.”

Lee hit .341 with three homers and 33 RBIs last season and was the Great Northeast Athletic Conference’s Rookie of the Year.

“I’ve worked out pretty hard in the gym and it’s paying off now,” said Lee. “I’ve worked on hitting the ball the other way. I can always pull the ball when I have to. But I’ve been hitting a lot of balls up the middle and to the right-center field gap and it has worked pretty well.”

Moran, according to Sanborn, has made significant strides over a productive 2008 season in which he was 4-5 with a 3.88 ERA.

“Last year, he was our number one pitcher most of the year and, a lot of the time, he would come up short against the other team’s ace, losing 3-2 or 5-4,” said Sanborn. “This year, he has really made that transition against the other team’s aces [and is winning those games]. He has been very consistent. He gives us a good outing every time out and that’s what you want from your number one guy.”

Sanborn said his strikeout-to-walk ratio speaks volumes about Moran’s season.

“That shows you the command he has,” said Sanborn.

“I try to make sure I get ahead of guys in the count. A lot of the time, I get ahead with my fastball, but I’ll also throw my offspeed stuff early in the count to get ahead. I try to finish them off before I go to a 2-2 or a 3-2 count,” Moran said.

One of the most important developments in Moran’s improvement has been toning down his pregame workouts.

“He’d work so hard preparing so diligently for his start, he’d be worn out in the first inning,” said Sanborn. “I got him to buy into the idea that his body needs recovery time. And he has been stronger this year. He has more in the tank.”

“I had been making myself more tired than I needed to be,” admitted Moran, who has a curve, changeup and slider to go with his live fastball.

Moran and Lee each transferred to St. Joseph’s from the University of Maine. Lee redshirted for one season but did practice with the team while Moran was 1-3 with one save over 13 games spanning two seasons.

“I think a big part of my success resulted from spending a year at Maine,” said Lee. “I worked hard and it taught me what I was capable of doing. When I came to St. Joseph’s, I was still considered a freshman, so I was that much further ahead than the others in my class.”

Moran wasn’t sure how the level of competition would stack up compared to what he faced at Maine.

“But it compares a lot more than I figured it would,” said Moran, who felt a productive season in a reputable Idaho baseball league last summer has been beneficial.

“I lacked confidence at Maine and that carried into last season. But I did real well in Idaho and got my confidence back. I’ve got more movement on my ball now,” said Moran, a former Penobscot Valley Conference Pitcher of the Year and Zone 1 American Legion Player of the Year.

Sanborn said Lee has been a rock solid receiver as well as hitter.

Lee and Travis Adams have thrown out 14 of 24 attempted base stealers this spring.

“Ian has a quick release and calls a nice game,” said Sanborn.

Lee, who has two years left after this season, and Moran, who has one left, are hoping to lead the Monks further than a year ago when they reached the NCAA Division III New England playoffs but lost their two games to Keene State (N.H.) and Worcester State (Mass.), 6-1 and 14-4, respectively.

“We fell apart at the end of last year. We want to do better than that this year,” said Lee.

lmahoney@bangordailynews.net

990-8231

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