The University of Maine baseball program likely will lose a handful of pitchers upon completion of the 2012 season.
At least one of those spots has already been filled.
Tommy Lawrence, a transfer from Winthrop University, has signed a National Letter of Intent to play for coach Steve Trimper’s Black Bears.
Lawrence decided to make a move because of his desire to be a starting pitcher.
“At Winthrop I just felt like I wasn’t going to get a shot to start, so I asked for my release (from his NLI),” said Lawrence, who spent this summer playing with four of his future teammates at Sanford of the New England Collegiate Baseball League.
“(Black Bears pitcher) A.J. Bazdanes talked to me and Maine sounded like a place that I wanted to go,” added Lawrence, who said he chose UMaine over Connecticut. He also played against UMaine righty Sean Coughlin in high school.
Trimper declined comment pending confirmation of the receipt of Lawrence’s NLI.
The righthanded pitcher from West Haven, Conn., who spent the last two seasons at Division I Winthrop, must sit out one year, according to NCAA transfer rules. He will become eligible in the fall of 2012 and will have two years of eligibility remaining.
Lawrence thinks it will be worth the wait.
“I kind of wanted to do it (transfer) no matter what,” he said. “I’ll be able to get in better shape and I’ll be able to get stronger.”
Lawrence had a good summer for the Sanford Mainers. The team is managed by former UMaine star and assistant coach Aaron Izaryk.
The 6-foot, 195-pounder had a 2-2 record with a nifty 1.22 earned run average with the Mainers, where he played with UMaine’s Bazdanes, Jonathan Balentina, Justin Leisenheimer and Matt Verrier of Norway. He allowed only 30 hits in 51 2/3 innings with 31 strikeouts and 12 walks.
“It’s the first time I got to start in two or three years, so I was just pumped up about that and was able to pitch pretty good,” Lawrence said.
Lawrence, 20, ended his season with a five-hit shutout of North Shore in the first round of the NECBL playoffs.
Opponents batted .161 against him.
“He already is good, but in terms of America East, he’s going to be a front-line guy,” Izaryk said. “He relies a lot on movement. He’s about 86-88 (mph), kind of a sinker ball pitcher, but can straighten it out and throw harder. He has an above average breaking ball and an above-average changeup.”
Lawrence pitched extensively at Winthrop of the Big South Conference, working almost exclusively in relief. He appeared in 43 games, posting a 3-8 record and a 6.35 ERA with five saves in two seasons. He struck out 66 and walked 34 while surrendering 98 hits in 78 innings.
Last spring, Lawrence was 1-4 with a 4.03 ERA and registered four saves. He was third on the team with 21 appearances and struck out 31 in 38 innings.
“I had a pretty good high school career as a starter,” Lawrence said. “I never really was a reliever.”
Izaryk said Lawrence knows the game and puts in time to prepare.
“He’s a super kid, just works his tail off every day,” Izaryk said. “He’s pretty special in terms of the way he approaches hitters. He knows what he’s got to do to be successful every hitter and every pitch.”